On December 13, 2005, the Great Lakes Governors of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and the Premiers of Ontario and Québec signed the Great Lakes—St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement, and the Governors endorsed the companion Great Lakes—St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. The agreements detail how the States and Provinces will manage and protect the Basin and provide a framework for each State and Province to enact laws for its protection. The agreements include the following points:
- Economic development will be fostered through the sustainable use and responsible management of Basin waters.
- There will be a ban on new diversions of water from the Basin. Limited exceptions could be allowed, such as for public water supply purposes in communities near the Basin, but exceptions would be strictly regulated.
- The States and Provinces will use a consistent standard to review proposed uses of Basin water.
- Regional goals and objectives for water conservation and efficiency will be developed, and they will be reviewed every five years. Each State and Province will develop and implement a water conservation and efficiency program.
- The collection of technical data will be strengthened, and the States and Provinces will share the information, which will improve decision-making by the governments.
- There is a strong commitment to continued public involvement in the implementation of the agreements.
In the United States, the Compact became law on December 8, 2008, following approval by each of the eight State legislatures and Congress, and signature by the President. In order to put the Agreement into law in Ontario and Québec, the Provinces amended their statutes and regulations as appropriate. It was approved by the Québec National Assembly on November 30, 2006, and by the Ontario Provincial Parliament on June 4, 2007. No Canadian federal legislation was required.