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Water-supply--Minnesota; Water transfer--Law and legislation


ABSTRACT-New concern about the open access nature of the Great Lakes was sparked by the 1982 Sporhase Supreme Court Decision which limited states' power to prevent interbasin water transfers and was intensified by the 1988 drought in the Midwest. In response to the court decision, the Great Lakes Charter was adopted which established a set of management rules for new interbasin water transfers and other consumptive water uses. However, not all Great Lakes states have implemented the Charter provisions and, even if they did, it is not clear that the Charter objectives could be reached. The big losers from a large interbasin water transfer would be hydropower and navigation interests. The states most affected would be New York and Michigan, along with the two Canadian provinces, since they produce and use most of the hydropower on the Great Lakes. It appears that, given the high costs of large interbasin water transfers, they could not be economically justified, particularly those designed to provide irrigation water for the southwestern states. Only small water transfers for urban or industrial uses would have a chance of passing any economic efficiency or political test.

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