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Background and Overview

CGLI’s water stewardship project was conceived in 2010 when the region’s water security was the focus of attention during implementation of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Compact and Agreement. At that time, many industrial water use protocols (or “water foot-printing”) were being developed, but most were designed for regions where water is scarce. The objective of CGLI’s water stewardship project is to identify a water use and management protocol for Great Lakes industry that incorporates the unique characteristics of the Great Lakes region, where water is abundant and regulatory mechanisms are mature.

The Great Lakes Protection Fund saw the potential of working with industry to identify, demonstrate, and promote regional action to enhance the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem, by evaluating and pilot testing water stewardship assessment tools. The Great Lakes Protection Fund is a private, permanent endowment that was created by the Governors of the eight Great Lakes states in 1989 to fund innovative, collaborative projects that test ideas for improving the health of the Great Lakes. CGLI’s water stewardship project furthers the Governors’ priority to “ensure the sustainable use of Great Lakes water resources while confirming that the States retain authority over water use and diversions of Great Lakes waters.”

Great Lakes industry participated in the development of the Compact and continues to work toward sustainable use of Great Lakes water resources. Five Great Lakes companies stepped up to participate in Phase III of CGLI’s water stewardship project:

  • Escanaba Paper Company, a subsidiary of New Page Corporation, Escanaba, Michigan
  • Consumers Energy JH Campbell Complex Power Plant, Pigeon Creek, Michigan
  • Rock-Tenn Paper Mill, Battle Creek, Michigan
  • Shell Canada Oil Refinery, Sarnia, Ontario
  • LaFarge NA Cement Plant, Bath, Ontario

The project team consists of a diverse and knowledgeable group of dedicated professionals from various sectors, including LimnoTech (an Ann Arbor-based environmental consulting firm), the National Council on Air and Stream Improvement (the research arm of the pulp and paper industry), Jim Nicholas (Nicholas-H2O), and others with deep expertise in industrial water stewardship. In the latest phase of the water stewardship project, this team worked closely with the Alliance for Water Stewardship to evaluate a beta version of its International Water Stewardship Standard. Final project outcomes were released in January 2015.

Industry’s commitment to CGLI’s water stewardship project furthers three critical needs in the Great Lakes region: a balanced and sustainable ecosystem, economic stability and growth, and social systems that support and maintain a sustainable society.

More information about CGLI’s Industrial Water Stewardship project is available here.