Its time to think about cross-regional cooperation to address our problems related to surface water and climate change.
In recent years, water levels in the Great Lakes have been at or near all-time record highs. This has created numerous and expensive headaches for those living along and near the shoreline, including submerged lands, significant property and structural damage, erosion of beaches and parcels, as well as the distinct possibility for dangerous toxins (including spent nuclear waste) being washed into the lakes. Just in the past 24 hours (June 15/16, 2022), two (2) stories were published about the dangers facing the Great Lakes from abnormally high-water levels. Links to each are provided below:
Meanwhile, much of the West and Southwest are suffering through a monumental mega-drought that has led to water rationing, increased wildfires, more dust storms, and other related problems.
To this retired planner, it seems that addressing one (1) problem in a thoughtful and careful manner could provide at least a temporary respite for the other. A suggested idea would be the following:
When water levels in the Great Lakes exceed six inches (6″) over the ordinary high water mark of the lake(s), the excess water could be drawn from the lake(s) into tanker trucks and/or tanker rail cars and transported to reservoirs/natural water bodies the West and Southwest. The water would then be released into these water bodies to help restore drinking water supplies and for use in wildfire fighting efforts. Given that both regions would benefit from this effort, compensation should not be necessary for the water other than the transportation costs.
Such and action would require a emergency declaration by the President of the United States for Lake Michigan and joint declaration by the President and the Prime Minister of Canada for the four (4) Great Lakes bordering the USA and Canada. Such an option would not be limited to the West and Southwest mega-drought, but any portion of either country that is suffering from such a severe drought.
**PLEASE NOTE: the drawing of excess water would only be permissible if one (1) or more of the Great Lakes exceeds its ordinary high water mark by at least six (6) inches and then could only be drawn until a water surface elevation of (+6″ above the ordinary high water mark) is reestablished.
Such a plan would be beneficial to the Great Lakes Region by addressing the problems associated with excessive water levels, while also protecting the viability of the lakes and providing a source of income to those states/province bordering the lakes. Meanwhile, the West and Southwest (or other future areas of the country suffering from drought) would benefit by having their parched surface water bodies partially replenished with excess water Great Lakes.
Too often, state (or provincial) and regional differences have led to turf wars over issues like water without addressing the long-term problem(s) satisfactorily. With increased impacts from climate change, it is time establish a national framework that allows for careful and constructive solutions to water needs.
In times of need, both Americans and Canadians have joined together to help their fellow citizens and neighbors regardless of local, regional, or national differences. This is true for hurricanes, tsunamis, floods, and wildfires, and other emergencies. And a similar united effort should be true for droughts as well, particularly when excessive water in the Great Lakes could provide some relief for those in need. Peace.