Reversing the Run and Hide Water Policy

A national water commission? Michigan and the Great Lakes should be afraid, according to an editorial in yesterday's Grand Rapids Press.

Or we could choose to be bold, confident, and fearless, like the good old days when the citizens of America's heartland launched the Industrial Revolution, propelled national prosperity, and changed the world.

Because a federally sponsored water task force is just the sort of forum the people of the Great Lakes need to forge a new discussion about water policy, and make the case that the region is uniquely positioned to help solve the nation's water challenge with new technologies and management techniques as opposed to naively throwing more water at the problem.

Regional leaders could even call for a federally funded public works project to underwrite a massive investment in the research, development, design, and manufacture of new ideas and products to boost water stewardship and conservation. Just so happens there's a proposed $20 billion Great Lakes restoration strategy that could get the work started now languishing in Congress.

Looking at the issue this way, Midwest residents and leaders should actively support the proposed commission. Not run from it.

We should embrace it and own it.

But the Press article illustrates how the people of the Great Lakes start from a position of weakness when it comes to the water management discussion. Not a strategic position of strength and cunning.

"Any talk of a national water policy raises the specter of Southwestern cities and Southeastern peanut farmers looking to somehow stick a straw in the Great Lakes," the Press states. "The Southeast and Southwest are in the grip of droughts that show no sign of relenting, and could grow worse if scientists are even half right about the expected effects of global climate change."

In all too familiar fashion, the editorial then goes on to rehash the standard Great Lakes statistics about containing 20 percent of the world's fresh water and 90 percent of the nation's supply.

It says nothing of the region's unmatched researched universities, incredible heritage of innovation and problem-solving, or the multi-billion dollar global water tech market now emerging in the knowledge economy.