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Published: Friday, 11/9/2012

Lake Erie’s guardians

Disputes are brew­ing over Ohio’s new per­mit sys­tem to gov­ern wa­ter with­draw­als from Lake Erie un­der the Great Lakes re­gional com­pact.

A new ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee will de­fine “ad­verse im­pact” to Lake Erie and its trib­u­tar­ies. State law­mak­ers will make nom­i­na­tions to the panel to the Ohio Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources.

Ohio DNR Dep­uty Direc­tor Karl Geb­hardt said his de­part­ment ex­pects con­tro­versy over the ap­point­ments, as it at­tempts to bal­ance en­vi­ron­men­tal needs against the de­mands of man­u­fac­tur­ers, agri­bus­i­ness, and other ma­jor in­dus­tries.

Linda Wog­gon, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of the Ohio Cham­ber of Com­merce, said the busi­ness com­mu­nity will in­sist on “cer­tainty, clar­ity, and pre­dict­abil­ity” from the ad­vi­sory board.

Ohio law­mak­ers took lon­ger than those in any other state in the Great Lakes re­gion to en­act a law that sets guide­lines for in­dus­trial wa­ter-with­drawal per­mits, to up­hold the state’s ob­li­ga­tions un­der the Great Lakes com­pact. Gov. John Ka­sich signed the bill last sum­mer, de­spite con­cerns about whether it af­fords Lake Erie and its trib­u­tar­ies enough pro­tec­tion.

The gov­er­nor must en­sure fair and bal­anced rep­re­sen­ta­tion on the in­flu­en­tial ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee. And law­mak­ers need to keep think­ing hard about the best way to man­age Lake Erie, Ohio’s great­est wa­ter as­set.

Each state must de­liver its plans next year to a com­pact coun­cil. Our state’s prod­uct needs to make Ohio­ans proud.

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