Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Protecting the Public Trust and Human Rights in the Great Lakes

14 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2011  

Melissa K. Scanlan

Vermont Law School

Date Written: September 16, 2006


This Article explains that Great Lakes water is a commons and a public trust; this water should be delivered as a freely accessible public good for domestic use; and the United States and Canada should not allow private corporations to take Great Lakes trust water out of the public commons "without paying for it" and export it around the world. This does not mean, however, that the Great Lakes governments turn their collective backs on areas of the world suffering severe water shortages. Canada and the United States should allow the Great Lakes to be used outside the Basin for humanitarian, non-commercial purposes. Also, this Article articulates how Great Lakes states can strengthen protections for the Great Lakes trust by passing legislation to implement the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact and Agreement of 2005 that aims to fulfill the states' duties as trustees of this world-class resource.

Keywords: commons, Great Lakes, Great Lakes Compact, water law, public trust doctrine, water scarcity, human rights

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Scanlan, Melissa K., Protecting the Public Trust and Human Rights in the Great Lakes (September 16, 2006). Michigan State Law Review, Vol. SP, No. 1333, 2006; Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper Archival Collection. Available at SSRN:

Melissa K. Scanlan (Contact Author)

Vermont Law School ( email )

68 North Windsor Street
P.O. Box 60
South Royalton, VT 05068
United States

Paper statistics

Abstract Views