Last year’s signing of the Great Lakes Compact is a story that's been underplayed in the media, IMO. The Compact is complex legislation that specifies a series of restrictions on withdrawing water from the Great Lakes. Chatter has it that "water is the next oil" from a geopolitical-economic standpoint. This may be one of the first salvos in an intensifying national and global struggle between water haves and have-nots.

As a resident of the Great Lakes region, I have a selfish interest in hoarding this most precious resource. On the other hand, as an American, I feel uneasy about putting regional over national interests. We Great Lakers would not like it a bit if California decided to keep all the produce grown there for its own markets, or if various Western states banded together to control the fossil fuels and commodity metals produced in their locales.

Water rights led to range wars in the 19th Century, and I'd hate to see the Wild West return in this age. Moreover, intramural disputes pale in comparison to global conflicts that can arise between water-rich nations like ours and those faced with shortages.

Good news is that we work in an industry in which water plays a pivotal role. Let's count that as a blessing.