Monday, July 18, 2011

Heads Up, Wisconsin: There's A Message In Ohio Governor's Water Bill Veto

Ohio's far-right, pro-business Gov. John Kasich, (R) - - something of a conservative mentor to our own Gov. Walker - - vetoed a Great Lakes water management plan that business proponents in his own party touted and pushed through both houses of the Republican-led Legislature as a tool for Ohio employers, but that Kasich found lacking.

"Lake Erie is an incredible resource that demands our vigilant stewardship to maximize its environmental, recreational, and commercial potential for Ohioans," Mr. Kasich said...
Ohio's legislation lacks clear standards for conservation and withdrawals and does not allow for sufficient evaluation and monitoring of withdrawals or usage..."

Ohio had proposed the highest water-withdrawal thresholds of any Great Lakes state before a user must receive a permit...

In recent days, Mr. Kasich heard increasingly from other states that raised concerns that the high water thresholds and a lack of emphasis on water conservation would undermine interstate cooperation and potentially lead to litigation.
I've been suggesting that every time the pro-diversion forces in Waukesha link economic development there to tapping into  Lake Michigan they are weakening the application, since all eight Great Lakes states have to approve diversions completely outside the basin to cities like Waukesha.

Those diversions under the Compact have to meet rigorous standards, as they are considered exceptions, and Waukesha's out-of-basin application is the first of its kind. 

Let's be honest: the other Governors could care less about job growth in one small Wisconsin city or region of the state (except, perhaps, as a competitor) - - consider that Kasich has vetoed a bill pushed by his own party and supporters that would have given his entire state a business advantage.


Because he knew he was courting legal trouble, or tit-for-tat unregulated or unjustified water withdrawals or applications in the other states that he would have trouble opposing elsewhere if he forged ahead with the Ohio legislative plan.

That's the beauty of a multi-party, mutually-applicable agreement. Everyone is constrained from doing the wrong thing.

More than a year ago, I wrote:
The weakest link in the application - - and what will raise questions all the way from the Town of Waukesha to the City of Milwaukee, and with reviewers and regulators in all the eight Great Lakes states - - is Waukesha's plan to send Lake Michigan water into parts of Pewaukee, Genesee and the Town of Waukesha.

Expanding the current service territory land mass by 80%.

Water for growth is not the goal of the Compact. Take it from a Compact expert's superb analysis, here...

It's where the diversion application lacks the most justification and creates the most waves.
How the Ohio issue played out suggests that Waukesha and the Wisconsin Department of natural Resources - - the agency here that will review the application and then sponsor it should it be forwarded to the other states (and to two Canadian provinces for advice only) - - need to be savvy, and focused on the big picture as they edit and describe the application -  because-Kasich and the six other Governors are obviously going to read and analyze every comma before they vote to approve.

Amazing that we'd learn a lesson in restraint from Kasich, the former Fox News commentator, but there you have it, Wisconsin.


Paul Trotter said...

Milwaukee has a distinct advantage over many western urban sprawl suburbs/ cities. Diversion for economic reasons is not acceptable for Waukesha. Milwaukee County could become a mecca for companies in need of unlimited water supplies. Putting a restrictor on the St. Clair river will further protect our Great Lakes. But I digress.

Anonymous said...

At last - something I can be proud of re: Kasich. THANKS FOR THIS ARTICLE.