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Assemblyman
Robert K. Sweeney
Assembly District 11
Chair, Environmental Conservation Committee
Great Lakes Compact Introduced to Preserve Largest Freshwater Resource in the United States
June 25, 2007

Assemblyman Bob Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst) and Senator George D. Maziarz (R-Newfane) recently introduced legislation to enact the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact (A.7266/S.4324).

The Compact will institute important new protections for the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence River ecosystem. It will incorporate new water management initiatives throughout the Great Lakes basin, including protection against out-of-basin water diversions and the promotion of water conservation measures basin-wide. The Compact is the culmination of a five-year process of negotiations among the eight Great Lakes States and the Provinces of Quebec and Ontario with participation by diverse interests. The Governors of all eight Great Lakes States endorsed the Compact in December of 2005.

“This historic agreement is designed to ensure protection of the waters of the Great Lakes, now and in perpetuity. Over 40% of our State lies within the Great Lakes Basin. The Great Lakes are an important environmental resource and economic driver for the State. The Compact is designed as proactive legislation to shelter and preserve the Great Lakes”, said Assemblyman Bob Sweeney, Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation

Senator George Maziarz, whose 62nd Senate District is bounded by Lake Ontario and the Niagara River connecting to Lake Erie, said, “The Great Lakes are 20% of the world’s fresh water. As “great” as these waters are, they are extremely fragile. With water-hungry nations increasingly eyeing the Great Lakes for their own water needs, it is imperative that New York pass the Compact to safeguard these resources to support the economies and quality of life of not only the current communities that depend on them but future generations. New York should be a leader in this effort.”

The Compact language must be passed by all eight Great Lakes States and ratified by the U.S. Congress to take effect. Minnesota recently passed it. Once executed, the Compact will be the first enforceable water management system covering the Great Lakes Basin.

“The Great Lakes Compact is essential to preserving New York State’s water resources so that millions of people who rely on these waters for drinking water and their economic livelihood will be protected in the future,” said Assemblyman Darrel J. Aubertine (D-Cape Vincent). “As the representative of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Thousand Island’s region, I support this measure and urge all the other Great Lakes states to adopt the compact. This is one way we can help ensure that the quality of life for those who depend on these important waterways will not be jeopardized in the future.”

“The Great Lakes Compact is necessary to preserve one of the world’s sources of fresh water,” Senator Jim Alesi (R-Perinton), whose district borders Lake Ontario to the north. “If this Compact does not pass all eight Great Lakes states we risk losing control of safeguarding these vital waterways. As an avid outdoorsman and the Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, I understand how critical these waterways are for both recreation and economic vitality. Most importantly, the Great Lakes are the most significant source of freshwater for our region. We cannot underestimate the importance of keeping these waters clean for the millions of residents who get their drinking water from the Lakes. I urge all of the Great Lakes states to pass this historic compact so we can be assured that these waterways will remain the freshest in the world for generations to come.”

“An agreement on the Great Lakes Compact has become a matter of urgency,” said Assemblyman David Koon (D/I-Perinton). “The Great Lakes are one of this state’s, in fact one of the world’s, greatest natural resources. The Great Lakes states have the responsibility of protecting these resources, we have laid the groundwork for that protection, and now it is time that we put aside parochial interests and formalize the agreement.”

“It’s important that we take the proper steps now to ensure the future protection of the Great Lakes,” said Senator Mary Lou Rath (R-C-I, Williamsville), Chair of the Senate Committee on Tourism, Recreation and Sports Development. “The Great Lakes Compact will help not only to keep the Great Lakes environmentally sound, but will also help to ensure that the vast recreational opportunities the Great Lakes offer to sporting enthusiasts are always available.”

Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte (D-Lewiston) said, “As a long-time advocate for protecting the Great Lakes and their tributaries, I support the passage of the Great Lakes Compact. The Great Lakes are in invaluable natural resource for our communities. Along with drinking water, they supply power for our manufacturers, which provide jobs and serve as the foundation for our economy. The Great Lakes also attract sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts from all over the world. We must protect this natural resource by signing the Great Lakes Compact to ensure the vitality of the Great Lakes for generations to come.”

Senator Joseph Robach (R-Greece) said, "The Great Lakes are a priceless resource for drinking water, boating, fishing, swimming, tourism, and a key asset in the economic revitalization of Upstate New York. As New York’s most valued natural resource, this legislation will allow us to protect and preserve these lakes to the best of our ability. We must lead the charge on this initiative and it is my hope that our neighboring states will join us in our efforts."

“The Great Lakes Compact responds to rapidly increasing demands on the Great Lakes, a non-renewable natural resource. The Great Lakes played an important role in the development of Buffalo and its first-ring suburbs, and we need to ensure that the people and businesses of New York will continue to have access to this cornerstone of the economy. I will encourage my colleagues in the Legislature to support this important legislation.” said Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak (D-Cheektowaga).

"Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River are critical to the quality of life and economics success of not just the region that I represent – Central and Northern New York – but to New York State as a whole. We rely on these two bodies of water for shipping, tourism, fishing, recreation, public waters supplies, power and more." said Senator Jim Wright (R,C,I-Watertown). "Waters of the Great Lakes - St Lawrence River Basin must be carefully managed so that their economic, ecological and social benefits can be sustained for future generations."

 
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