Peter Annin, veteran reporter and author of “The Great Lakes Water Wars,” will be teaching a course of the same name at Northland College this semester. Starting Jan. 14, his class meets Tuesdays and Thursdays in Wheeler Hall from 2:30-3:50. Registration for this course is open to the public.
Like the book, the course will delve into the history of political maneuvers and water diversion schemes that have proposed sending Great Lakes water everywhere from Akron to Arizona. Using a case study approach that examines these various water projects — past, present and proposed — the course culminates with a focus on the Great Lakes Compact, a legal document designed to keep Great Lakes water inside the Great Lakes Basin.
As the codirector of the Northland College Mary Griggs Burke Center, Annin has been following, reporting, speaking and writing about the current diversion application from Waukesha, Wis., a Milwaukee suburb that lies just outside the Great Lakes watershed. Because Waukesha sits atop a depleted, contaminated deep aquifer, it has applied for a Lake Michigan water diversion of up to 10.1 million gallons per day.
“After reviewing the application for five long years, the state of Wisconsin has decided that Waukesha’s proposal is worthy of circulating with the other seven Great Lakes states for a vote,” Annin says. All eight Great Lakes governors must approve the application for it to go forward.
For one assignment, Annin says he will have students listen to an upcoming Waukesha public hearing next month.
“This course should provide students with a better understanding of the role that Lake Superior plays as the headwaters of a massive five-lake ecosystem,” he says. “Students will learn how water scarcity in one part of North America can impact water policy in another part of the continent, and how that has specifically influenced the history of Great Lakes water management.”
The College charges $220 to audit courses. For those interested in earning credit, the fee is $1,900. To enroll or to get more information about enrolling, contact the registrar’s office at (715) 682-1227.