COLUMBUS — Gov. John Kasich Friday exercised the first veto of his administration, rejecting a plan pushed to his desk almost solely by fellow Republicans that would have allowed substantially more water to be drawn from Lake Erie without regulation.
The governor urged the players involved to go back to the drawing board to address issues raised by other Great Lakes states, two former Ohio governors, and environmental organizations.
The business-backed bill would have spelled out how Ohio would live up to its part of the bargain under the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact approved by eight states, two Canadian provinces, and Congress.
Ohio has proposed the highest water-withdrawal thresholds of any compact state before a water user must receive a permit from the state. Those thresholds are 5 million gallons a day if taken directly from the lake, 2 million if taken from ground or other inland sources within the watershed, and 300,000 gallons for steams designated as high quality.
By comparison, the current limit is 2 million for net water use, the amount of water taken from anywhere within the watershed that is not later returned to the watershed.
Michigan’s new threshold is 2 million gallons of water a day. Indiana’s threshold for direct withdrawals from Lake Michigan is also 5 million, but it has lower thresholds than Ohio for elsewhere in the watershed.
“Lake Erie is an incredible resource that demands our vigilant stewardship to maximize its environmental, recreational, and commercial potential for Ohioans…,” Mr. Kasich said.
“While most of (House Bill 231) fulfills Ohio’s obligations without concern and helps meet the needs of Ohio’s industrial, energy, and agricultural water users, portions of it must be improved,” he said. “Namely, Ohio’s legislation lacks clear standards for conservation and withdrawals and does not allow for sufficient evaluation and monitoring of withdrawals or usage.”