Great Lakes—St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources

Compact and Agreement

The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Council (Compact Council) was established on December 8, 2008, when the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact became State and federal law. Each of the eight Great Lakes State legislatures ratified the Compact and Congress provided its consent for this historic accord.

The Compact details how the States will work together to manage and protect the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin. It also provides a framework for each State to enact programs and laws protecting the Basin.

The Compact includes the following points:

  • Economic development will be fostered through sustainable use and responsible management of Basin waters.
  • In general, there is a ban on new diversions of water from the Basin but limited exceptions could be allowed in communities near the Basin when rigorous standards are met.
    Communities that apply for an exception have a clear, predictable decision making process; standards to be met; and, opportunities to appeal decisions.
  • The States will use a consistent standard to review proposed uses of Basin water. The States have flexibility regarding their water management programs and how to apply this standard.
  • Regional goals and objectives for water conservation and efficiency have been developed, and they will be reviewed every five years. Each State will develop and implement a water conservation and efficiency program that may be voluntary or mandatory.
  • There is a strong commitment to continued public involvement in the implementation of the Compact.

The Compact Council includes the Great Lakes Governors who continue to consult and coordinate with the Premiers of Ontario, Québec and the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Water Resources Regional Body to protect the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.

View the one-age overview of the Compact Council. 

Implementation of the Agreement

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