Québec takes an important step toward implementing the Great Lakes–St.Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement
Québec, Thursday, November 30, 2006 – Today, the National Assembly of Québec approved the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement. In submitting this important international commitment to members of parliament for approval, the Minister of International Relations, Monique Gagnon-Tremblay, and the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, Claude Béchard, took a crucial step toward the implementation in Québec of this agreement, signed on December 13, 2005 in Milwaukee by the premiers of Québec and Ontario and the eight governors of the Great Lakes States: Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Indiana.
The purpose of this agreement is to protect and conserve the waters of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin. It stipulates that the ten governments will adopt and enforce a ban on water diversion out of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin. They are also adopting common standards and objectives to manage water withdrawals within the Basin.
Minister Gagnon-Tremblay stressed that this agreement is an historical event. As a matter of fact, it is the first time that federated states of different countries sign an agreement governing the management of water diversions and withdrawals from a cross-border watershed of such magnitude. She further added: “Establishing relations with federated states and regions sharing common issues, especially with regard to the environment, constitutes one of the cornerstones of our international strategy.”
“I am especially proud of this agreement since it reflects one of the Québec government's greatest concerns: water management with a view toward sustainable development. In this context, it was imperative to act collectively to preserve the quantity and quality of the waters of this Basin for the benefit of future generations,” said Minister Claude Béchard.
The Great Lakes–St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement allows full exercise of Québec's jurisdiction and authority over water management within its territory. It ensures Québec's participation in the decision-making process concerning use of the basin's water resources. It also ensures greater protection of the waters of the St. Lawrence River from the cumulative impacts of all upstream water withdrawals.
Lastly, it should be noted that since the availability of water supplies is becoming an increasingly pressing global concern, this international agreement is of particular significance owing to the considerable scale of the basin in question. It is important to remember that the Great Lakes alone represent one fifth of the planet's fresh water reserves.
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