I grew up near Lake Michigan, one of the biggest lakes on the planet. My hometown of Waukesha, Wisconsin, about 15 miles west of Milwaukee, is making a bid to tap the lake for its permanent drinking supply. Long story short: Over the decades, Waukesha and nearby towns have withdrawn so much water from the region’s deep aquifer, they’re now pulling up older water contaminated radium and salts.

But Waukesha can’t take one teaspoon out of Lake Michigan unless all eight of the Great Lakes states say it’s OK. Those are the rules under an agreement known as the Great Lakes Compact. The agreement didn’t get much press when George W. Bush signed it into law in 2008. The financial crisis dominated headlines then. But Peter Annin, author of “The Great Lakes Water Wars,” says it was a big shift in the way we manage water.

“There was this idea in the early part of the last century that we can ship water to wherever the people are,” Annin says. To listen or read the entire story. 

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