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Published: Tuesday, 4/24/2001

Beware the water pirates

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur's warning that the politics of water threatens the Great Lakes and the states surrounding them is one that ought to be heeded.

Ohioans would also like to hear their U.S. Senators, Mike DeWine and George Voinovich, join Ms. Kaptur in this chorus. They will be part of the advise and consent process on international treaties and are in the right political party to voice peremptory concerns in trade agreements that might limit local control of local Great Lakes water resources.

Ms. Kaptur worries that Ohio and other politicians on either side of the Great Lakes have little expertise in water wars or in protecting their water resources. The fighting can get hairy. Washington State and Oregon are having to drain their reservoirs to generate power for California.

This year snow has been scarce in the Pacific Northwest, as it has been around much of the Great Lakes, which is why lake levels are expected to drop even more. While so far around here marinas and boaters seem to be doing most of the suffering, in Oregon and Washington empty reservoirs translate to dry farmland in the summer, then failed crops and higher grocery prices.

As the U.S. population drifts to the South, the Southwest, and the West Coast, where water resources are inadequate, eyes will inevitably be cast on the Great Lakes. And if through finagling, their water can be purveyed to other states, U.S. trading partners may be able to seek dibs under pending agreements. This can't be allowed to happen.

It is time for our U.S. senators and representatives, our governor, and our local politicians to join forces with their counterparts in other Great Lakes states and in the Great Lakes Canadian provinces to assure that it doesn't.

There can be no national or international deals that deprive this region of its blessings.

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