5:22 PM EDT

Vernon J. Ehlers, R-MI 3rd

Mr. EHLERS. Mr. Chairman, last year we passed the Water Resources Development Act of 1999, which included a provision directing the Corps of Engineers to inventory and report to Congress on the existing information base for the Great Lakes biohydrological system. The intent of this provision is that the Corps compile the information existing within the Federal Government, including other agencies, which is relevant to sustainable water use management.

This information will be needed to make decisions about the appropriate sustainable use of Great Lakes waters. Building a comprehensive database, and identifying gaps in our knowledge, is especially critical at this time when the binational community in the Great Lakes Basin is taking a close look at water diversions and other consumptive use.

And on that latter point, I also have legislation pending which would deal with the issue of diversions of water from the Great Lakes, not just within the 48 States, but also international diversions. I think everyone is aware that we had a situation last year where a ship was initially granted permission to load on water for transport to a faraway country to be used as fresh water supply there. In an effort to prevent those diversions, we need studies and the legislation I am preparing.

This particular amendment would allocate $100,000, with an appropriate offset, to allow the Corps to begin what is authorized in the legislation we passed last year, that is, to provide an information base for the Great Lakes biohydrological system.

This has been brought to the fore by an announcement just made yesterday that the Great Lakes governors have allocated from the Great Lakes Protection Fund $745,000 for the Great Lakes Commission to study and improve the amount and quality of information available to decision-makers and the general public regarding water resources of the Great Lakes. That program fits in directly with what we have asked the Corps to do.

Now I do regret and apologize to the gentleman from California (Chairman PACKARD) for rushing to the floor at the last moment with this amendment, but it is because we have just received the information that the Great Lakes [Page: H5232]

governors have released this funding. I would like to pursue the amendment; but out of consideration for the gentleman, I am quite willing to withdraw it if he can give me assurances that he will seek to address this funding

matter in conference.