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Legislature approves Great Lakes Compact

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New Richmond, 54017
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Wisconsin is about to join four other Midwest states in demanding that the water from the Great Lakes stay here.

The state Senate voted 32-1, and the Assembly voted 96-1 Wednesday to ratify a long-awaited regional agreement.

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It now goes to Gov. Jim Doyle, who says it will make Wisconsin more attractive in a world where water is becoming more precious.

It prevents dry cities like Phoenix from raiding the Great Lakes. But it also makes it easier for places just outside the lakes' natural basins to use the Great Lakes for their drinking water.

Waukesha has tried to tap into Lake Michigan for years with no success. Now, Mayor Larry Nelson says the city will have clear guidelines to follow.

Assembly Republicans recently had objections to the compact, saying it's wrong for one Great Lakes governor to have the ability to veto a water usage request in a neighboring state.

That power is still there, and the agreement itself was untouched.

Lawmakers did agree to a few technical changes for implementing it. Still, Assembly Rep. Sheryl Albers, R-Reedsburg, and Sen. Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin, thought the agreement was too broad.

That's why they voted no.

Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania must still approve the agreement before it can take effect. Congress must OK it, too.

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