With an accord reached Tuesday between Democratic and Republican state lawmakers, Ohio will become the sixth state to ratify the Great Lakes Compact:
Ohio had been a major obstacle to the pact because of a disagreement over whether the plan would inadvertently violate ...
Ohio had been a major obstacle to the pact because of a disagreement over whether the plan would inadvertently violate property rights for groundwater on privately owned land. House Speaker Jon Husted, a Republican, and Democratic Minority Leader Joyce Beatty, reached a deal Monday to affirm private property rights and set the stage for Tuesday's vote.The Great Lakes hold about 90 percent of our nation's fresh surface water and 20 percent of the world's fresh surface water. As water resources become more scarce, the compact is viewed by supporters as a means of protecting the environment, and as a way for people in the region to protect their water rights. But some environmentalists say that the compact itself gives states too many options to continue the wholesale privatization of surface water.
Right now Michigan lawmakers are hashing out a compromise between House- and Senate-passed versions of a Great Lakes Compact tie-in that will allow private interests to reduce the state's cool and warm rivers and streams by as much as 25 percent and legally allow for the reduction of fish populations from 1 percent to 20 percent depending on the character of the stream or river. And wait, there's more: The bill would also require no permit for water withdrawals until the proposal reaches a level of an eye-popping two million gallons a day. Those companies with proposals for less than that simply register and take state water unsupervised.Regardless of whether states are going far enough in protecting the lakes, the compact remains the region's most comprehensive attempt to regulate access to the country's main supply of fresh water. With Ohio Governor Ted Strickland's promise to sign the agreement into law, Michigan and Pennsylvania are the two Great Lakes states yet to reach an agreement on the compact.