Ohio Governor Kasich Signs Lake Erie Water Use Bill

Environmental Update

Date: June 05, 2012

Overview

On June 4, 2012, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed House Bill 473, which regulates Lake Erie water withdrawals. The bill is designed to meet the requirements of the 2005 Great Lakes Compact, signed by Ohio and the seven other Great Lakes states, along with Ontario and Quebec.

This new version of the previously proposed bill reflects a longer period, averaged over 90 days, used to calculate average water usage. Governor Kasich had vetoed the previous version of the bill that included shorter calculation periods.

This version also reduces the volume of water that triggers permit requirements from the levels originally proposed in the previous version. The bill will allow manufacturers, power plants and water companies to withdraw up to 2.5 million gallons of water per day from Lake Erie; 1 million gallons per day from rivers, smaller lakes and streams feeding the lake; and 100,000 gallons per day from streams defined as "high-quality" before having to obtain a permit from the Department of Natural Resources. The application of this permitting requirement could affect hydraulic fracturing operations due to the large volume of water used in the fracturing process (as many as 5 million to 6 million gallons in a typical deep well project).

The standard administrative appeal procedures apply when a company wishes to challenge the Director of Natural Resources' actions regarding the water withdrawal permit. The final legislation curtailed citizens' opportunities to object to permits or complain about violations.

House Bill 473 will go into effect 90 days from the date it was signed.