Higgins Calls for Stop to Plan that Siphons Water From Great Lakes

July 13, 2011 Updated Jul 13, 2011 at 11:42 AM EDT

By WKBW News

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Higgins Calls for Stop to Plan that Siphons Water From Great Lakes

July 13, 2011 Updated Jul 13, 2011 at 11:42 AM EDT

(WKBW release) New York Congressman Brian Higgins, a member of the Congressional Great Lakes Task Force, sent a letter this week urging Ohio Governor John Kasich to veto legislation in his state that would allow businesses to remove 5 million gallons of water a day from Lake Erie.

Higgins, whose district borders Lake Erie, warned tapping into the Great Lakes would be devastating environmentally and economically.

“The Great Lakes remain one of the most vital natural resources to not just our region but our nation," Higgins said. "The Lakes represent the largest surface source of fresh water on this planet and must not be taken for granted. Furthermore, we are seeing, with the transformation of Western New York’s waterfront, the great economic opportunities made possible for regions bordering the Lakes.”

Higgins further questioned the action from an ethical and legal standpoint as the effort may violate the Great Lakes Compact approved by Congress in 2008. The Compact is an agreement between the Governors of New York, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and the Premiers of Ontario and Quebec which ban new diversions of water from the Great Lakes basin and provide for coordinated conservation, use and data collection efforts.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 30 million people live in the Great Lakes basin. The Great Lakes contain 95% of the America’s fresh water and supply drinking water to more than 30 million people in North America. The Brookings Institute found that Buffalo would see economic gains between $600 million to $1.1 billion if the Great Lakes are restored.