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Advisory board working to develop recommendations on Lake Erie water use
Buckeye Farm News
Last year, Ohio was among the eight Midwest states and two Canadian provinces to ratify the Great Lakes Compact — an agreement that governs the use and prevents the diversion of water from the Great Lakes.
By statute, an advisory board was established in Ohio, chaired by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, to develop recommendations to the governor and General Assembly for legislation and policy needed to implement the compact.
Ohio Farm Bureau Federation Director of Policy Development and Environmental Research Larry Antosch is the advisory board appointee for agricultural interests in the Lake Erie Basin. He and the rest of the advisory board began working on three distinct portions of the compact in March.
“Representing agricultural interests, I’m particularly looking out for the personal property rights of agricultural water users and to ensure that agriculture-related water users are able to continue to have access to the water they need,” Antosch said. “Our whole goal is to make sure those individuals using water today are protected as future regulations get developed, with the intent to grandfather all current water users who qualify under new standards.”
First and foremost, the board has been charged with establishing a baseline list of water users and withdrawers within the Lake Erie Basin. Those with the capacity to withdraw 100,000 gallons of water or more per day should, by law, be registered under the Water Withdrawal Facilities Registration Program that went into effect in 1988, Antosch said.
Second, the board is to develop water conservation and efficiency goals by establishing a list of practices for all water use sectors (power production, manufacturing, residential and agriculture) and individual water users to conserve water. Antosch said these practices will be voluntary, but could be a factor in determining if those wishing to withdraw larger volumes of water are permitted to do so in the future. An example of such voluntary water conservation practices include the Lake Erie Irrigation Water Management Guide. Antosch said the board is just beginning work on the third step — developing a program for regulating new and increased water withdrawals.
The timeline of the entire process is aggressive, said Antosch, noting that the initial baseline must be established by Dec. 8, with the final advisory board meeting scheduled for April 2010.
Online Extras: Find the Lake Erie Irrigation Water Management Guide, Lake Erie Basin Maps and more. Visit www.ofbf.org and search for this story's headline.