House Bill (HB) 473, a bill proposing rules on how much water farms and factories in Ohio can draw from Lake Erie, passed the Ohio House of Representatives April 25 with a vote of 59-38.
The passage of the bill, a 2012 Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) State Priority Issue, would bring Ohio into compliance with the Great Lakes Compact, of which OFBF has represented agricultural interests dating back to 2001.
Since 2008, OFBF has served on an advisory board to help develop recommendations for the legislation to fill requirements of the Compact.
“(The Great Lakes Compact) prohibits all new or increased diversions of water resources from the Great Lakes Basin to areas outside of the Basin, with limited exceptions to those communities that straddle the watershed divide,” said Larry Antosch, OFBF senior director of policy development and environmental policy in testimony to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on April 24.
“HB 473 accomplishes (key objectives of the Great Lakes Compact) in a manner that promotes stewardship of Ohio’s water resources, ensuring a safe, sustainable supply of water to meet the needs of today’s and future generations, protects existing private property rights associated with surface and ground water, and promotes economic development and job creation by recognizing that abundant fresh water is a highly desirable commodity,” Antosch said.
“We have appreciated the opportunity to work with legislators, Governor Kasich, and a wide breadth of interested parties on the current version of the legislation, which we believe is a balanced compromise,” he said.
OFBF continues to work to adopt state laws and regulations that promote water quality and maintain access to Ohio’s water resources for navigation, commerce, fishery and recreation through sound science and the protection of private property rights, including the right to reasonable use.