against Lake Erie siphoning
By Jim Siegel
Port Clinton News Herald
COLUMBUS -- Ohio is urging officials from states surrounding
the Great Lakes to take a stand against possible overuse
of the world's largest source of freshwater.
The Ohio House Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution
applauding the International Joint Commission for its
efforts to protect the waters of the Great Lakes and urge
completion of a 2001 non-binding agreement to regulate
removal and distribution of that freshwater.
The Senate approved the measure in June.
Rep. Jeff Wagner, R-Sycamore, said while studies show
that a major water diversion from the Great Lakes basin
is improbable in the near future, the resolution is still
an important step to protecting the region, particularly
"The value of Lake Erie and the Great Lakes basin
cannot be overstated in terms of the benefits brought
not only to northern Ohio, but for the entire state,"
Wagner told his colleagues.
The resolution was sponsored by Sen. Larry Mumper. House
Minority Leader Chris Redfern, D-Cawtaba Island, had introduced
an identical version in the House.
The Ohio Environmental Council urged passage of the resolution,
saying the state could become the region's standard-bearer
for protecting the Great Lakes.
"The Great Lakes are essential not only to the environment
and wildlife but to Ohio's economy," said Jack Shaner,
spokesman for the council, said during committee testimony
earlier this year. "We need to be wise stewards."
The five lakes represent 20 percent of the world's freshwater
supply. Only about 1 percent of their total volume is
replaced each year, Shaner said.
As recently as 1998, private companies have looked into
siphoning millions of gallons from the lakes and selling
it as drinking water to places as far away as Asia. Shaner
has said without regional enforcement such plans could
Gov. Bob Taft currently serves as chairman of the Council
of Great Lakes Governors and Sam Speck, director of the
Ohio Department of Natural Resources, is chairman of a
committee charged with creating those cooperative standards.
A draft agreement to control Great Lakes water among
the adjacent territories should be ready by early 2004,
said Michele Willis, ODNR assistant to the director.
The process began when nine governors and two Canadian
premiers signed a charter annex in June 2001. The states
agreed to develop an interstate compact, setting across-the-board
standards for water usage.
Since then, the group has elected five new governors
and two new premiers, slowing the process.
"They are still working very well together despite
all the changes," Willis said.
States and provinces will hold public hearings on the
draft proposal before a final version is sent to legislative
bodies for approval.