Gov. Ted Strickland finally got his opportunity to sign the highly debated HB 416, which ratifies the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resource Compact. HB 416 passed the House back in February by a vote of 88 – 3. However, the Senate refused to support the legislation until the House passed SJR 8 with the necessary three-fifths majority required for it to appear on the ballot in November. Sponsored by Sen. Tim Grendell, SJR 8 is a proposed constitutional amendment to ensure private water would not be considered “public trust” under the Great Lakes Compact.
Policymakers in Ohio, nearby states and Canada are hoping to avoid a water dispute involving 6,000,000,000,000,000 gallons of water – the estimated amount of water in the Great Lakes. It’s 95 percent of the fresh water in the United States and 1/5 of the world’s supply.
As southern and western states gain population and congressional representation, many in the Great Lakes region fear the precious natural resource could be threatened by out of basin water withdrawals.
To address the issue, eight regional states and Canada have drafted an agreement known as the Great Lakes Compact that would prevent such withdrawals. Before it can take effect, it must be approved by lawmakers in each state. Now that Ohio has ratified the Compact, the only other states that needs to pass legislation are Pennsylvania and Michigan.