In the past few years, I have written several columns about efforts by our state to comply with the Great Lakes Compact.
The historic agreement between seven states and two Canadian provinces is designed to protect the lakes from overuse and diversion of water to other watersheds. As part of the compact, the legislature has been charged with passing a plan by the state to manage the waters of Lake Erie.
An earlier bill (HB 231), which I opposed, was passed by the legislature and later vetoed by the governor. The bill, which was pushed by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, failed to protect Lake Erie from overuse and diversion of water to others. It was opposed by former governors George Voinovich and Bob Taft.
A new Lake Erie bill (HB 473) was recently passed by the legislature. I too opposed this bill along with former governors Voinovich and Taft. As I have stressed all along, it is important that we work with businesses in our state. However, the use of water from Lake Erie and its tributaries must be handled in a responsible manner to protect the health of the lake and its tributaries. For instance, it would be reasonable to allow for withdrawing more than 100,000 gallons per day from high quality streams feeding into Lake Erie. The problem is the bill allows that figure to be “averaged” over 90 days. A business could then take out millions of gallons over a few days; yet remain below the 90-day average. The result could possibly be devastating to a fragile stream that feeds Lake Erie.
I was also greatly troubled by another provision of the bill. It states that when a permit for water-withdrawal is granted, only those with a “direct economic or property interest” could appeal it in court. This would deny due process to the public, which has an interest in the health of the lake and its tributaries. I believe we need to revisit this bill and correctly address the concerns expressed by our former governors, sportsmen and businesses which rely on our lake for fishing and recreational opportunities. It is important that we all work together to always protect Lake Erie.
I hope you’ll make plans to join me for my next “Lundy Listens” town hall July 12 (Thursday) at 7 p.m. at Carlisle Township Hall (1959 Grafton Rd.). You can always contact me with state issues of concern at 614-644-5076 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. I work for you and look forward to serving you.