TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - As governors of the Great Lakes states debated how to prevent outsiders from staking a claim to their precious water, advocates warned that without a deal, the region would be at the mercy of an increasingly powerful - and thirsty - Sun Belt.
But since the eight governors shook hands on a water compact in December 2005, the loudest complaints have surfaced within the Great Lakes region itself, where people find it easier to say “no” to Arizona than to restrain their own appetites.
Here's where the wingnuts come in:
Ohio is another battleground. State Sen. Tim Grendell, an outspoken property rights advocate, wants the states to renegotiate parts of the compact - particularly its declaration that Great Lakes waters are held in public trust.
That would void private ownership of farm ponds, wetlands and even well water, said Grendell, a Republican from Chesterland: “The government is being encouraged to take people's property without paying for it. That is flat-out un-American.”
This argument is absurd. The Great Lakes and the waters feeding them have never belonged to private parties. If Sen. Grendell prevails, it's not well owners who will benefit; it's corporate water miners like Nestle, who would love to see the Great Lakes converted in law from public trust resources to privately owned, bought and sold commodities. Sen. Grendell, one hopes, does not receive significant campaign support from the water miners.