Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Upcoming Upper Great Lakes Study Meetings In SE Michigan

Feb 4: The Public Interest Advisory Group (PIAG) of the International Upper Great Lakes Study (IUGLS) -- a binational team of researchers studying whether possible physical changes in the St. Clair River are contributing to record low levels in the Great Lakes -- has scheduled two public meetings in the Detroit area for February 19-20, 2008. PIAG co-chair Kay Felt and researchers will present an overview of the Study, highlighting the latest findings and focusing on the importance of public input and collaboration with local governments. Attendees will have an extensive opportunity to present their views and ask questions. More broadly, the Study is examining whether regulation of outflows from Lake Superior might be improved to take into consideration changing climate and evolving interests of property owners, local governments, the shipping industry, and the recreation/tourism industry.

On Tuesday, February 19, 2008, from 7 to 9 PM, PIAG will meet at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial, 32 Lakeshore Drive, Grosse Pointe Farms. On Wednesday, February 20, 2008, from 1 to 3 PM, PIAG will meet jointly with the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), at 535 Griswold St., Suite 300, Detroit, Michigan.

The International Joint Commission (IJC) appointed the International Upper Great Lakes Study Board in February 2007 to examine whether the regulation of Lake Superior outflows can be improved to address the evolving needs of the upper Great Lakes. The study area includes lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie, and their interconnecting channels (St. Mary's River, St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, Detroit River and Niagara River), up to Niagara Falls.

Major topics for investigation include determining the factors that affect water levels and flows, developing and testing potential new regulation plans and assessing the impacts of these potential plans on the ecosystem and human interests. Physical changes in the St. Clair River will be investigated early in the study as one factor that might be affecting water levels and flows. Depending on the nature and extent of the physical changes, and their potential impact on water levels and flows, the study may also explore potential remediation options.

On November 1, 2007, the IUGLS released preliminary results that did not appear to support the theory that an eroding river bed is responsible for causing the Lake Michigan-Huron system to "hemorrhage" 2.5 billion gallons of water a day [See WIMS 11/2/07]. On August 14, 2007, an analysis from a consultant for the Georgian Bay Association (GBA), indicated that the channel drainage in the St. Clair River was causing the extensive loss of water from the Lake Michigan-Huron system. However, the preliminary results from the extensive IUGLS indicate that the so-called "armour layer" in the upper part of the St. Clair River is considered to be stable and therefore, the bed cannot be eroding.

Access the IUGLS website for details and further information (
click here).

HOW Coalition Looks At Great Lakes Funding

Feb 6: The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition (HOW) has released a preliminary review of the President's proposed budget released on February 4, and how it relates to Great Lakes programs. They said the White House budget "leaves the Great Lakes on thin ice and underscores the need for Congress and the next President of the United States to do more to restore a national resource that millions of people depend on for their jobs, public health and quality of life.” HOW said the biggest single cut is to a program to help communities modernize old wastewater treatment facilities to prevent sewage contamination.

Jeff Skelding, National Campaign Director for HOW said, “Absent leadership from this President, we urge the U.S. Congress to fund the manageable solutions we have at our disposal to restore the Great Lakes now, because every day we wait, the problems get worse and the solutions more costly. We need strong federal leadership to partner with the region’s states and cities to restore the largest source of surface freshwater in the world. Instead, the White House budget cuts programs to stop sewage contamination and confront the threat of aquatic invasive species. Most of the leading presidential candidates have signed a pledge to restore the Great Lakes. We can’t wait until January. Now is the time to increase funding to restore the Great Lakes as called for in the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy. Congress must act to restore the cuts in this short sighted budget.”

Access a release from HOW (click here). Access a table comparing FY08 & FY09 funding levels (click here). Access a table comparing funding levels by individual Great Lakes states (click here). Access the HOW Coalition website for additional information (click here). Access a detailed, 78-page FY09 EPA Budget summary (click here, search Great Lakes for detailed information).