For Release: Wednesday, July 13, 2011
NYSDEC's Martens Warns Ohio on Water Withdrawal Legislation
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens today sent the following letter to his counterpart in Ohio to express New York's concerns with Ohio's Water Withdrawal legislation passed by the Ohio General Assembly recently.
July 13, 2011
Mr. David Mustine
Ohio Department of Natural Resources
2045 Morse Road, Building D-3
Columbus, Ohio 43229-6693
Re: Ohio Water Withdrawal Legislation and the Great Lakes Compact
Dear Director Mustine:
I am writing to encourage you to recommend the Governor's veto of legislation passed by the Ohio General Assembly yesterday that could fundamentally unravel our Great Lakes Compact (Compact). The bill would essentially provide for no governmental approval or conditions for withdrawals of up to five million gallons of water per day from Lake Erie. A lower, but equally unacceptable, threshold of two million gallons would apply to most tributaries. The thresholds contained in the legislation are far too high and if enacted would defeat and undermine the measures taken by other Great Lakes States and Provinces.
A fundamental premise of the Compact is that the Great Lakes States and Canadian Provinces share a tremendous, yet fragile, resource. Comprising 18 percent of the world's available fresh water, the Great Lakes are a vestige of the last ice age whose waters are only replenished once every one hundred years. Consequently, they can be drawn down and dramatically damaged by unbridled water withdrawals, a situation that the Compact was designed to prevent. With this in mind, the New York Legislature recently passed NYS DEC's legislative proposal to manage all water withdrawals of 100,000 gallons per day or more.
If this legislation becomes law, the Great Lakes could be harmed irreparably. It could lower the Lakes' water levels affecting ports, marinas and wetland habitats including important fish spawning grounds. The legislation also stands to impair New York's and others' ability to generate hydropower. Further, the Compact could unravel if other states and provinces adopt similar thresholds or if a multitude of large withdrawals (below the five million gallon threshold) go unmanaged throughout the Great Lakes Region. These consequences are far too dire to ignore.
For all of these reasons, I ask that you urge the Governor to veto this legislation so the Compact will not be compromised and Ohio may continue to act as a good neighbor to protect the Great Lakes that we share.
Joseph J. Martens