Date of this Version
The Governors of 8 states and Premiers of 2 Canadian provinces signed a supplementary agreement to the Great Lakes Charter on June 18, 2001. This agreement, known as the Annex or Annex 2001, established principles for a new decision making framework for reviewing proposed withdrawals of Great Lakes water. Annex 2001 is the first step toward a set of binding water management agreements to be negotiated by June 2004. Directive 3 of the Annex provides that proposals to withdraw water will not be approved unless they will produce "an improvement to the waters and water dependent natural resources of the Great Lakes Basin. The Annex uses the term "improvement" with reference to ecosystem integrity rather than economic or other societal values. Related themes are found in a variety of international, federal and state laws, but few if any provisions require ecosystem improvement as an explicit end goal. In a modest attempt to further define this standard, this paper will review existing statutes and regulations in search of analogous legal requirements. Our assessment is intended to provide some initial direction and guidance for the interested public and for decision-makers faced with the task of implementing the improvement standard. As the scope of our endeavor is limited to existing law, we must leave it for ecologists and experts from other disciplines to establish clear, quantifiable goals and measurements to ensure that the improvement standard is articulated and met.