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Press Release

PUBLIC REVIEW PERIOD ON THE DRAFT GREAT LAKES BASIN SUSTAINABLE WATER RESOURCES AGREEMENT
QUEBEC, AS A PARTNER IN THE COUNCIL OF GREAT LAKES GOVERNORS, INVITES QUEBECERS TO COMMENT ON THE DRAFT AGREEMENT

Quebec City, July 19, 2004 – Monique Gagnon-Tremblay, Minister of International Relations, and Thomas J. Mulcair, Minister of the Environment, announced today that public comments are being solicited on the draft agreement between the eight Great Lake States and Ontario and Quebec. The draft agreement, prepared under the Council of Great Lakes Governors, seeks to improve the management and protection of the waters and natural resources of the Great Lakes –St. Lawrence River Basin.

"The draft that Quebec is submitting for public comment is a first in that it brings together the U.S. States and two Canadian Provinces in an international agreement to protect the waters of a water basin they all share. The Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Basin is unique, and it is our duty to protect it for future generations. I invite citizens to take advantage of the public review period to tell us what they think of the agreement," minister Gagnon-Tremblay said.

The draft being submitted for comment concerns the implementing agreements that the governors and premiers agreed to in 2001 in the Great Lakes Charter Annex. The Great Lakes Charter Annex sets out principles and guidelines for improved, simple, sustainable and effective water management. The purpose of the new water management plan is to maintain and respect the jurisdictions exercised around the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Basin and to apply a new joint decision making standard to new and increased water withdrawal projects, based on the resource. This common standard will apply to projects to divert water from the basin and to projects for consumption of water within the basin. In Quebec, the agreement covers the St. Lawrence River watershed to Trois-Rivières, including tributaries and groundwaters.

The Draft Great Lakes Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement was prepared by the Water Management Working Group, composed of representatives designated by the provincial Premiers and Governors. While developing the draft agreement, the Working Group had the support of an advisory committee formed of representatives of a broad range of interests in the environmental, energy, agricultural, municipal, industrial and maritime sectors. Consultations and discussions were also held with experts, observers and First Nations communities.

"This public review will allow the Quebec population to express its wishes regarding this project to conserve the water resources of the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Basin. By participating in the development of this agreement, which deals with the management of projects to withdraw or divert waters from the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River basin, Quebec will ensure that it has a voice in the decision making process and in the management of water consumption from this basin. We will also make sure that there is a consistency between Water Policy commitments and the commitments in this agreement between the ten basin partners," Mulcair said.

By holding this public consultation, which will last until October 18, 2004, the Council of Great Lakes Governors encourages people in the States and Provinces concerned, including Quebec, to examine and comment on the draft Great Lakes Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement between the eight U.S. States and two Canadian Provinces involved. In addition, a second preliminary draft agreement, the Great Lakes Basin Water Resources Compact, which involves only the eight U.S. States, is also being submitted for review. The Compact is similar to the agreement between the States and the Provinces except that it has a binding effect on the eight States and requires the approval of the U.S. Congress to be enacted. The agreements provide for protections that include:

  • Implementing and maintaining water conservation and information programs in all Great Lake States and Ontario and Quebec

  • Application of a decision making standard, based on the resource, for evaluating new and increased consumptive uses and diversions

  • A collective review process for regional projects in the Great Lakes –St. Lawrence River Basin

  • The requirement that any new or increased diversion of water and any major regional use of water must improve the basin's ecosystem

  • A review every five years of the cumulative impacts of withdrawals on the basin as a whole

Consultation

During the review period, Quebecers can comment on any aspect of the agreements, primarily the agreement between the eight U.S. States and two Provinces. The Working Group is specifically looking for comments on the items in the document titled Initiative de gestion des eaux du bassin Grands Lacs – Saint-Laurent, on the website of the Quebec Ministère de l'Environnement at:
http://www.menv.gouv.qc.ca/eau/grandslacs-en/index.htm

The Council of Great Lakes Governors will conduct two public meetings: one in Chicago and the other in Toronto. The States and Provinces concerned will also hold their own public meetings. Quebec will conduct two: one in Montreal, on September 14, and the other in Trois-Rivières, on September 16.

The Working Group will review all comments during the process of finalizing the agreements, which will be submitted to the Great Lakes Governors and the premiers of Ontario and Quebec for adoption.

Documents for public consultation are available on the websites of the Quebec Ministère de l'Environnement (www.menv.gouv.qc.ca) and International Relations (www.mri.gouv.qc.ca) as well as on the website of the Council of Great Lakes Governors (www.cglg.org). Comments on the draft agreement can also be sent to the following address: consultationgrandslacs@menv.gouv.qc.ca.

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Sources :

Chantale Turgeon
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of the Environment
Tel. : (418) 521-3823
Lilly Nguyen
Press Secretary
Office of the Deputy Premier
Minister of
International Relations and
Minister responsible for
La Francophonie
Tel. : (418) 649-2319
   
Information :  
Raymonde Goupil
Communications Branch
Ministry of the Environment
Tel.: (418) 521-3823, ext. 4912
Denis Auclair
Communications Consultant
Communications Branch and
Media Relations
Department of International
Relations
Tel.: (418) 649-2400, ext.4088


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