Great Lakes Compact
The Great Lakes Compact is a formal agreement between the Great Lake states. A parallel agreement includes the two Canadian provinces that border the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway. In these agreements, the states and provinces agree to manage the water in the Great Lakes watershed collectively. The agreements also ban Great Lakes water from being "diverted," or piped out of the basin with a few limited and strictly regulated exceptions.
The Great Lakes Compact became effective on December 8, 2008 after final consent from the U.S. Congress. This date began the ban on diversions of water out of the basin. It also starts the five year clock for each of the Great Lakes states to develop a water management program with the elements required by the compact. Wisconsin passed implementing legislation for the compact in 2008 and will have its required management program fully in place by the end of 2011.
Two regional organizations oversee the implementation of the compact and the parallel agreement with the provinces.
- The Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Council
The Compact Council includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
- The Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Regional Body
The Regional Body includes the eight Great Lakes states plus Ontario and Quebec.
Compact effective – December 8, 2008
The Great Lakes Compact becomes effective in the eight Great Lake states. This date starts the five year clock for states to implement their water management programs. It also begins the ban on diversion of water out of the Great Lakes Basin.
Submit grandfathered water use – December 8, 2009
The states are required to submit their "baselines" to the Compact Council. Part of the compact allows existing users to grandfather their current water use as of December 8, 2008. This grandfathering occurs by defining a "baseline" for each water user. State water management programs will then apply to new users or increases in water use over this grandfathered "baseline" amount.
Registration and reporting – December 2010
Wisconsin’s implementing legislation calls for statewide registration of all water uses – groundwater and surface water – and annual reporting of the amount withdrawn. The requirement to register and report water use is dependant on how much is actually withdrawn. Online registration will be available by 2011.
State water use permits issued – December 8, 2011
General and individual permits will be issued to all water users in the Great Lakes Basin. These permits will establish the amount of water the user can withdraw, the requirements for water conservation and the requirements for monitoring and reporting that water use.
Statewide water use report – June 2016
Wisconsin’s compact implementing legislation calls for a statewide water use report to identify trends in water use by subbasin, potential areas with water supply problems and options for sustainability. This report is first due in 2016 and every five years after that.
Water supply service area plan – December 2025
Wisconsin’s compact implementing legislation calls for all communities with populations over 10,000 to have an approved water supply service area plan by the end of 2025.
For questions related to Wisconsin’s implementation of the Great Lakes Compact including questions on rule drafts, registration and reporting, water conservation and efficiency and diversion applications, contact:
- Eric Ebersberger
Water Use section chief
Wisconsin’s Participation in the Great Lakes Basin Regional Implementation of the Great Lakes Compact
- Shaili Pfeiffer
Water Use section
- Compact Implementing Legislation – Wisconsin Statute Chapter 281
- Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Regional Body – This Body includes the Great Lake State and Provinces and works together to implement the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Agreement.
- Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact Council – This Council includes the eight Great Lake States and oversees the regional implementation of the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact.
- Congress’ Consent Resolution – Oct. 3, 2008
- Great Lakes Water Wars – Read recent media accounts of the compact and other resources compiled by the author of a recent book on Great Lakes water use.
- FAQ – For more information, some frequently asked questions.
- Map of area covered by compact
- Council of Great Lakes Governors compact background materials – Links to the agreement, the compact, other states implementing legislation and other background materials, as developed by the states’ umbrella organization.
- Great Lakes fast facts – Learn fascinating facts about the lakes themselves and the economies, environment and culture they sustain.
- Presentation on the compact and Wisconsin’s implementation
- A Firm Hand on the Spigot – This magazine article was written in June 2007 before the Great Lakes Compact was signed in Wisconsin. It provides a good perspective on why the Great Lakes Compact was needed.