Potential Socioeconomic Outcomes of a Proposed Diversion from the Great Lakes Basin to the Midwest and Central Plains of the USA
(2015) Potential Socioeconomic Outcomes of a Proposed Diversion from the Great Lakes Basin to the Midwest and Central Plains of the USA, no. 56.
A diversion of freshwater from the USA and Canadian governed Great Lakes Basin (GLB) to the Midwest and Central Plains (MCP) of the USA has long been a proposed ecological intervention in addressing continuing water scarcity. Previous research has been conducted on the potential environmental effects of such a diversion leading to the enactment of regulations in an attempt to prohibit new or increasing existing diversions. However, a gap remains in literature regarding potential socioeconomic outcomes. Despite limited regulations, the importance of freshwater supply particularly in the MCP area suggests that a diversion remains a potential option. This study examined potential socioeconomic outcomes of a diversion from the GLB to the MCP through a literature review with reference to eco-socialism theory and political ecology perspectives and uncovered a central theme of valuation. Furthermore it evaluated current, official documents on diversions from the GLB to determine if they adequately protect against adverse socioeconomic impacts with a specific focus on compliance. Findings identified that socioeconomic outcomes will differ between classes, with the most negative effects felt by those economically disadvantaged. An evaluation of current official documents governing diversions from the GLB indicated inadequate protection against adverse socioeconomic outcomes, specifically pertaining to issues around the transboundary nature of the basin system and insufficient enforcement measures. Conclusions and recommendations from this study should be used by policy makers in future decision making processes regarding diversions from the GLB.