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Published: Thursday, 4/10/2008

Ohio senator offers way to end his opposition to pact that would prevent Great Lakes water sales


CLEVELAND The Ohio state senator who has been blocking a multi-state agreement to prevent Great Lakes water from being diverted to parched states said he'll drop his opposition under one condition.

Sen. Tim Grendell said Wednesday he wants Ohio voters first to amend the state constitution to prevent privately owned ground water from transferring to public hands something he believes the Great Lakes plan, as currently written, would allow.

The Chesterland Republican is drafting an amendment for consideration by voters on the November ballot.

The plan, which must be approved by participating states and then ratified by Congress, has also been held up in Wisconsin because of concerns about private property.

But Gov. Jim Doyle on Wednesday announced a compromise with lawmakers and scheduled a special legislative session to vote on the plan April 17. Officials said the state will address concerns about private property in rules governing how the plan will be implemented. The compromise will keep the plan as a whole from being changed, which would require each state to reopen it as well.

Wisconsin's movement would leave Ohio as the remaining obstacle for the plan, which is designed to prevent the diversion of the lakes' water outside the region and from overuse within the region. It has been approved by Illinois, Indiana, New York, Minnesota and two Canadian provinces. There is little opposition in Pennsylvania and Michigan.

The Ohio lawmaker who has twice pushed the Great Lakes agreement through the state House said the constitutional amendment isn't necessary, but that he won't oppose it.

"This would just delay the compact even longer from going to Congress for approval," said Rep. Matt Dolan, a Republican from Novelty.

Conservationists supporting the plan also accused Grendell of foot-dragging.

"All along he has been saying we need to change the compact itself, but now he comes up with this last-minute idea to address

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