EDITORIAL- Health of the Great Lakes affects
When most residents of the Scioto Valley think of the
term "body of water," they likely think about the Scioto
River or Paint Creek, but the Great Lakes should also
be a concern for southern Ohio residents -- even though
we're three hours from Lake Erie. The plan to protect
the Great Lakes from massive water diversion is a valuable
step in heading off potential future problems. But it's
lengthy timeline cries out for interim steps to provide
As the dry areas of the Southwest continue to be developed,
there will be mounting problems with water supply and
mounting pressure for diversion of our greatest natural
resource. In recent years, there have been increasing
indications of interest in siphoning off large amounts
of Great Lakes water. Water may some day be at the center
of bitter political and territorial battles. A firm policy
protecting our water will be essential, and it's far better
to have it in effect before the issue heats up.
This week, the governors from the eight Great Lakes states
revealed a proposed new regional agreement to help restrict
and monitor water usage from the five waterways. It's
a plan that should help to protect the health of the lakes
and ensure wise use of the natural resource. Ohio Gov.
Bob Taft said the proposed interstate agreement would
provide "unprecedented protection" for the lakes by mandating
projects siphoning large amounts of water not harm the
lakes' water supplies or overall ecology. Such protection
is badly needed.
Under the plan most projects taking more than 1 million
gallons a day outside the Great Lakes Basin would first
need approval from all eight Great Lakes states: Ohio,
Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania
and Wisconsin. The basin in Ohio extends to roughly the
northern one-third of the state. Projects inside that
watershed using more than 5 million gallons would also
need approval from six of the states. All siphoning would
require a return of some water, such as treated waste
water, to ensure the effect on the lake's level is minimal.
Of concern about this entire process is the fact states
will have 10 years to establish regulatory agencies and
policies to enforce the new standards. Some say the whole
process could put off the restrictions for another 13
years. Given the mounting pressure for water diversion,
that may be too long.
The Great Lakes are a true treasure, boosting our quality
of life, our economy and our environment as well as meeting
the vital water needs of tens of millions of people. Strong
protective measures are appropriate.