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On whales, drinking water and the Great Lakes

Several months ago, I wrote about how a new documentary examines frightening contamination in the lakes and the wide-ranging consequences:

TORONTO, Canada — U.S. President Barack Obama has turned his attention to the sorry state of the Great Lakes, the natural reservoir for 20 percent of the world’s fresh water.

On Saturday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the United States would renegotiate the Great Lakes Quality Agreement with Canada. The treaty needs updating to confront new threats, including invasive species, declining water levels and chemical contamination.

Clinton made the announcement on the Rainbow Bridge, which connects Canada and the U.S. above spectacular Niagara Falls. Nearby, on the American side of the border, is Love Canal, where homes and a school were built on a toxic waste dump. Birth defects and a slew of ailments forced the evacuation of the community in the late 1970s.

A week earlier, Obama appointed a Great Lakes czar to oversee his ambitious clean-up plan. Cameron Davis, a Chicago-based environmentalist, will initially manage $475 million in new spending. Obama has promised $5 billion during the next decade to restore the lakes.

As their first order of business, bureaucrats in both initiatives would be wise to screen "Waterlife," the new documentary by Toronto-based filmmaker Kevin McMahon. It’s an arresting look at the actions and neglect that have pushed the lakes to the brink of “irreversible” collapse ...

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