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Copyright©2008. Congregation of Saint Joseph.
Protecting Earth's Fresh Water

Sister Marilyn Nickol, CSJ, of Cleveland brought Lake Erie
water to add to water others brough to the meeting from the Great Lakes where they live.

Representatives from congregations in all eight states that border the Great Lakes attended the RCGL meeting for environmental updates and work on the coalition's Position Statement.

Our country’s Great Lakes are the largest fresh water ecosystem in the world, and the Religious Coalition for the Great Lakes (RCGL) has been immersed in learning about ever growing threats to the quality and quantity of the water – and advocating for safeguards. Countless types of pollution, global warming, invasive species and massive diversion of the water supply for commercial profit, are just a few of the issues.

Sisters representing congregations of women religious in all eight states that boarder the Great Lakes, including ours, formed the RCGL in 2005 and were instrumental in working with state and federal governments and other environmental coalitions to pass the Great Lakes Compact, signed into law in December 2008. The compact requires each of the eight states to have regulations in place by 2013 to govern withdrawal/diversion of water from the Great Lakes. Canadian provinces bordering the Great Lakes have passed a similar compact into law.

Freshwater Future
supports the RCGL with grant dollars and access to environmental experts and resources. When the RCGL met at our LaGrange Center in recent weeks, “Freshwater Future” provided two speakers to update the group on climate change and the impacts of climate adaptation. (Climate adaptation means limiting the harm or taking advantage of events like changes in the growing season.) Via conference call, an environmental attorney briefed RCGL participants on water diversion. For the past 150 years, the U.S. has operated under the Reasonable Use theory which banned removing water, except for use to make products. The lawyer maintained that, today, using the world’s limited fresh water as a market commodity betrays the public trust.

As an advocacy and education coalition, the RCGL has developed a draft of its Position Statement which they plan to use as an education tool for Catholics and all people of good will, making it available to schools, colleges, universities and parishes.