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Posted 7/12/07

Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Mayors set goal for water conservation

At its fourth annual meeting held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, members of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Initiative announced progress on its Water Conservation Challenge, July 12, 2007.

In one year, 28 cities have committed to a goal of 15 percent reduction in water consumption by 2015.

As the world's largest source of fresh water, the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River represent nearly 20 percent of the world's surface freshwater supply and provide drinking water for more than 40 million United States and Canadian citizens.

The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (GLSLCI) is a bi-national coalition of mayors and other local officials actively working to protect and restore the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. GLSLCI focuses its work around three important areas for municipalities: water conservation, water quality and waterfront vitality.

Cities Initiative past-chair Mayor David Miller said water conservation is a win-win for cities. "It conserves a precious resource, and it drastically reduces our energy use, which reduces greenhouse gases and saves us money. "I'm proud of what the Cities Initiative's water conservation challenge has achieved in such a short time. We have already conserved enough water to fill 85,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Collectively, we intend to change the nature of water consumption in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence basin."

"We are pleased that great progress is being made to conserve water," said George Heartwell, Mayor of Grand Rapids. "By bringing together mayors from around the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Basin, we are all working toward a common goal: to improve the quality of our water."

Mayors attending the Cities Initiative's annual conference also called on the Canadian and US governments to pass comprehensive invasive species and ballast water control legislation immediately, with mandatory measures for ships carrying ballast water and those with no ballast on board. "There is consensus right across the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence basin, from environment groups to cities, from shippers to fishermen," says newly elected Cities Initiative Chair Gary Becker, Mayor of Racine, Wisconsin. "We need immediate Canada-US action now on invasive species legislation. There is too much at stake for further delay."

Responding to the deadline for comments on the review of the Canada-US Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, Mayor Miller stated, "We are pleased to see Canadian authorities take action on areas of concern. We call on the Canadian and US governments to open the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement for renegotiation. It is 20 years out of date. We need a modernized approach to Great Lakes and St. Lawrence protection."

Mayor Helen Fotopolos of the borough of the Plateau-Mont-Royal, and member of the City of Montreal's executive committee, added, "We are pleased that the Cities Initiative has endorsed the Quebec Declaration on the St. Lawrence River. The health of the St. Lawrence is directly linked to the health of the Great Lakes. We need a formal agreement for cooperation in protecting our shared ecosystem."

Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago, the Founding Chair of the organization, commended fellow local officials for the continued leadership. "The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative has become a tremendous asset to regional communities as we move forward on long-term protection and restoration of this important resource," said Daley.

Visit the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative for additional information.


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