The House Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources Committee has been drafting a Lakes Omnibus Bill and has heard testimony on numerous days over the past few weeks.  Ginny Garrison testified on February 28 (You can click here to read testimony to the House Fish, Wildlife, and Water Resources Committee) and reported to the FOVLAP Legislative Committee that the House Committee appeared to be moving toward a bill that will establish a Water Resources Preservation Program and associated Fund, but will require the Agency of Natural Resources to study how best to populate the fund and implement the program. It was unclear how the Committee would specifically address lakeshore protection.

On February 29, Julie Moore provided the following comments to the House Committee: “The idea of further study of the water resources preservation program is a reasonable and good next step. It would be ideal if there was a limited amount of resources (on the order of $25-35K) that could be made available to support this effort, as it would allow ANR to bring in some financial experts to consult on the effort. I also think that the bill should specify the amount of funding that the program should be capable of generating; as you know, I would recommend a minimum of $10 million annually.

I would encourage the Committee to address shoreland protection separately from/outside of the water resources preservation program. Similar to how Act 110 (2010) established that a general permit for stream alteration work would take effect on date certain, I would recommend that the bill include an implementation deadline (July 1, 2014). The longer we wait for lakeshore protection, the less of it there will be left to protect. In addition, making lakeshore protection standalone would also allow you to incorporate a request for ANR to review and make recommendations related to its shoreland encroachment permits. These permits would definitely benefit from being updated to reflect what was learned flooding last year’s flood events.”

It is anticipated that the Committee’s bill will be introduced and receive a bill number soon.

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