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Water Supply Issues in the Finger Lakes Region. Sarah Evans Finger Lakes Institute Internship Advisor: Professor Rimmerman Fall 2004. www.multi-fax.com/ lakes.htm. Water Supply. Definition: The water available for a community or region. The source and delivery system of such water.

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water supply issues in the finger lakes region

Water Supply Issues in the Finger Lakes Region

Sarah Evans

Finger Lakes Institute Internship

Advisor: Professor Rimmerman

Fall 2004

www.multi-fax.com/ lakes.htm

water supply
Water Supply


  • The water available for a community or region.
  • The source and delivery system of such water.

Focus: Legislation governing diversions and changing uses of water from the Great Lakes and Finger Lakes.


why worry about water supply

Economic considerations

Privatization of water supply industry


Level of government

Application of consistent standards

Environmental Impact

Cumulative impact

Enforcement of regulations

Why worry about water supply?
goals of internship
Goals of Internship
  • Research
    • Policy history
    • Current initiatives
  • Education
    • Critically review current legislation
    • Produce executive summary of findings
  • Community involvement
    • Attend local events
    • Raise public awareness
    • Prepare community for future

www.winecountrycabins.com/ img/wineinsun.jpg

the great lakes
The Great Lakes
  • Represent 20% of world’s available fresh surface water
  • 95% of United States’ fresh surface water
  • Provide drinking water for 40 million people in the United States
  • Less than 1% of the water is renewed each year!


great lakes policy history
Great Lakes Policy History
  • Boundary Water Treaty of 1909
  • Lake Michigan Diversion Supreme Court Consent Decree of 1967
  • Great Lakes Charter of 1985
  • Water Resources Development Act of 1986
  • 2001 Great Lakes Charter Annex
annex agreements
Govern NEW proposals to withdraw or divert water from the Great Lakes

Apply to proposals to INCREASE current water withdrawals and diversions

Annex Agreements

www.peopleandplanet.net/ graphs/greatlakesmap2.gi

2001 annex agreements
Created between 8 States and 2 Canadian Provinces bordering the Great Lakes:

Quebec, Ontario

Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin

Great Lakes Basin Sustainable WaterResources Agreement

Voluntary international “good faith” agreement

Great Lakes Water Resources Compact

To be approved by Congress

Enforceable in U.S. Federal Courts

2001 Annex Agreements
standards for approval
Approval based on potential for ecosystem harm

Attitude of environment before economics

Must conserve water

Return water to same exact location

Must return same water

Quality of water must be same or better

Result in no significant environmental impact

IMPROVE the ecosystem!!

Standards for Approval

www.se.gov.sk.ca/.../ lakeshore.htm

approval process
Local review only- under 1 million gallons/day averaged over 120 days

Regional review- Over 1 million gallons/day averaged over 120 days for out-of-basin use

Approval by all 8 states needed

Regional review- over 5 million gallons/day averaged over 120 days

“Super-majority” of 6 to 2 states needed

Approval Process

wallpaper.net.au/wallpaper/ space/Great%20Lake

benefits of annex agreements
Provides an environmental standard for decision making process

Make review process bi-national

Legally binding and enforceable in the United States

Stronger regional water management

Covers all waters, including surface water, ground water and tributaries

Users required to conserve water

Balances economic development with environmental stability

Involves public in policy process

Benefits of Annex Agreements


negative aspects of annex agreements
All existing water users and new diversions under 250,000 gallons per day for in-basin uses EXEMPT

Return flow requirement does not apply

Standard could be applied inconsistently

Averaging period is too long

In-basin standards phase-in period is ten years

Once a permit is granted it does not have a time limit

Examination of cumulative effects should be on a local level

Negative Aspects of Annex Agreements
suggested improvements to annex agreements
Create a cohesive overall management plan

Determine exactly how much water is currently being withdrawn, can the ecosystem sustain this level of use?

Improve conservation efforts

Form a scientific advisory board to collect, interpret and disseminate data

Guarantee opportunities for public involvement at all stages

Suggested Improvements to Annex Agreements
finger lakes region
Composed of eleven lakes

Spans 14 counties

Includes 5,000 square kilometers

Serves as headwaters to Great Lakes

Population of region is 1.2 million

22.2 million visit region annually

Current water withdrawals estimated to be 200 million gallons/day

Finger Lakes Region

(Balyszak, FL-LOWPA Conference, 2004)

seneca lake
Seneca Lake
  • Volume: 4.2 trillion gallons
    • Over 50% of total volume of Finger Lakes
  • Area: 66.3 square miles
  • Provides drinking water to 70,000 people

www.winecountrycabins.com/ img/eastmap.gif

Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association

why is water supply a concern for the finger lakes region
Why is water supply a concern for the Finger Lakes Region?
  • Finger Lakes on DEC’s 2004 303(d) List of Impaired Waters
    • Identified as unable to support appropriate uses
  • At the current rate of consumption Seneca Lake would be dry in 57 years

(NYS DEC 303(d) List)


application to finger lakes
Application to Finger Lakes
  • What would it take to adopt a document like the Annex Agreements in the Finger Lakes?
current finger lakes policy
Current Finger Lakes Policy
  • No overall policy governing water withdrawals and diversions!!!!
    • Water supply management needs driven by:
      • Navigation
      • Public Water Supply
  • Permit system used at local level

(Eidt, S. Personal Communication.)

new york state dec regulation 6 nycrr part 601 permit system
Permit required to:

Install a new water supply system

Change an existing water supply system

Acquire land for an existing or new system

Permits submitted to local jurisdiction

Permit approval occurs at local level

Permit system focuses on municipalities, not commercial uses

NO regional or statewide oversight!

New York State DEC Regulation (6 NYCRR Part 601) Permit System


future of the finger lakes
Need framework to stand up against legal challenge to current policy

Developed critique of Great Lakes Annex Agreements

Completing suggestions on adaptation of Annex Agreements to protect the Finger Lakes Region

Must educate and raise awareness before demand for Finger Lakes water increase

Database entries

Geneva League of Women Voter’s speaking engagement

Future of the Finger Lakes
  • 25 Year Plan for the Great Lakes: Executive Summary


  • Great Lakes Directory 2001


  • Great Lakes Basin Water Resources Compact


  • Council of Great Lakes Governors


  • Request for Public Comment and Great Lakes Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement


  • New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. http://www.dec.state.ny.us/website/regs/part601.html
  • Political Diversions: Annex 2001 and the Future of the Great Lakes


  • International Joint Commission, Protection of the Waters of the Great Lakes: Final Report to the Governments of Canada and the United States.
  • Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association. Seneca Lake Watershed Facts


Thank you to the Finger Lakes Institute staff for their enthusiasm and invaluable advice.