Many worry Ohio water plans will hurt Lake Erie

04-13-2012 // John Seewer - Associated Press

This excerpt is from The Associated Press

Proposed Ohio rules about how much water farms and factories can draw from Lake Erie and the rivers flowing into it don't offer enough protection for the lake's tributaries, environmentalists and anglers told the media Thursday in a teleconference organized by the National Wildlife Federation.

The plan now being debated in the Ohio Legislature also could end up hurting the lake, a source of drinking water for about 11 million people, they said.

"You compromise one part of the system, and you compromise the whole system," said Rick Graham, an outdoors enthusiast from northern Ohio.

Environmentalists are pushing back again amid the attempt by the state to set rules governing the use of Lake Erie water. In 2011, they opposed a proposal that ultimately was vetoed by Gov. John Kasich, who said it lacked clear standards for withdrawals and didn't include enough oversight.

Eight states and two Canadian provinces along the Great Lakes have until the end of 2013 to establish regulations for large-scale water withdrawals.

According to the Great Lakes Compact, signed into law in 2008 by President George W. Bush, all waters within the Great Lakes basin should be protected as part of the public trust. The states bordering the lakes sought the protection to prevent Southern states where water is in short supply from taking it.

What has environmentalists and Ohio's charter fishing industry most upset is how Ohio's proposed legislation is worded when it comes to protecting rivers from huge water withdrawals and the definition of what would be considered an "adverse impact" to the lake and rivers.

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