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Great Lakes Article:

Help sought on area's water issues

By John Bartlett
Article courtesy of Erie Times
November 7, 2001

The state Department of Environmental Protection wants the public's help in establishing environmental priorities within Pennsylvania's Lake Erie watershed, an area that covers the northern and western portions of Erie County and an area of northwestern Crawford County.

"We've spent the last several months establishing baseline environmental conditions for the Lake Erie watershed, determining the causes of environmental problems and how they should be addressed," said James Rozakis, the DEP's acting regional director. "Now we need help from citizens and organizations."

The public will have the opportunity to provide the help Nov. 14 at Penn State Behrend when the DEP holds a public meeting in the Reed Student Union Building beginning at 7 p.m.

"I think this meeting is very important," said Kevin Cooper, chairman of the Pennsylvania Lake Erie Watershed Association.

"People need to realize they are stakeholders and this is one way for them to ... express their opinions."

The watershed approach to managing environmental issues grew out of the DEP's environmental futures planning process.

It looked at how decisions are made and dollars spent in an attempt to connect management of the department directly to improving environmental conditions.

"Our resources will be assigned to address top priorities, and we'll also look to the community to work as our partner in protecting and restoring our environment," Rozakis said. "Measured improvements in environmental conditions will indicate our process."

Cooper is an enthusiastic supporter of the watershed approach.

"The great idea about a watershed approach is it is very natural. Water is the central issue. It is much better than political boundaries. Using a watershed you encompass all the issues that cross political boundaries," Cooper said.
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