Monday, April 29, 2013

IJC Disagreement On Plan To Address Lake Water Levels

Apr 26: The International Joint Commission (IJC) advised the governments of Canada and the United States, in a 16-page letter-report dated April 15, 2013, that it will implement this year, what it said is an "improved plan" for regulating Lake Superior outflows at Sault Ste. Marie. The new plan, Lake Superior Regulation Plan 2012, provides additional benefits compared to current regulation, especially during extreme water supply conditions. In addition, the Commission recommends that the governments of Canada and the United States investigate structural options to restore water levels in Lake Michigan-Huron by 13 to 25 centimeters (about 5 to 10 inches), including a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis and a detailed environmental impact study. Specifically, the Commission encouraged governments to focus on options that would not exacerbate future high water levels but that would provide relief during periods of low water. 
    In order to better understand how future water supplies may affect water levels, the IJC calls upon governments to better coordinate the binational collection of climate-related data and strengthen climate change modeling capacity to help improve water management. This approach underpins the adaptive management framework recommended by the Study so that decision-makers at all levels of government have the tools and processes to make informed decisions. The Commission will issue specific recommendations regarding adaptive management for the Great Lakes system following its deliberation of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence River Adaptive Management Task Team final report.

    Joe Comuzzi, Canadian chair of the IJC said, "Although future water levels are uncertain, we cannot ignore the damage from record low water levels. From Georgian Bay to Door County, from shoreline property owners to the shipping industry, we heard calls for action, and we urge governments to act in response to our recommendations." Lana Pollack, U.S. chair of the IJC, chose not to sign the Commission report because, in her view, it places insufficient emphasis on climate change and the need for governments to pursue and fund adaptive management strategies in the basin. She also cautioned against raising "false hopes that structures in the St. Clair River, if built, would be sufficient to resolve the suffering from low water levels of Lake Michigan-Huron, while at the same time causing possible disruption downstream in Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie."

    The IJC advice to governments is in response to the findings and recommendations of the International Upper Great Lakes Study (IUGLS). Originally focused on updating the regulation plan for Lake Superior outflows, the five-year Study was expanded to include an examination of whether physical changes in the St. Clair River were affecting the level of Lake Michigan-Huron. Prior to making these recommendations to the governments, IJC thoroughly reviewed more than 3,500 comments received from the public, including those provided at 13 public hearings held throughout the upper Great Lakes basin last summer. 

    In a related matter, the U-M Water Center, NOAA-Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab, U-M Cooperative Institute for Limnology and Ecosystems Research have announced a two-hour seminar and panel discussion of the drivers of decreased lake levels as well as the management and potential economic implications. The event is free and open to the public and will also be broadcasted live via webcast. Pre-registration is requested. The seminar will be held on Thursday, May 30, 2013 from 3:00 – 5:00 PM, with a one-hour reception to follow at the University of Michigan, 4th Floor Forum Hall, Palmer Commons, 100 Washtenaw Avenue in Ann Arbor.

    Access a release from IJC with links to the letter-report, statement from Commissioner Pollack, comments on the IUGLS study and more (click here). Access complete details on the U-M seminar (click here). [#GLakes]

You can review recent issues of eNewsUSA (click here)
Access subscription information (click here)
Want to know more about WIMS? Check out our LinkedIn company website (click here).
33 Years of Environmental Reporting for serious Environmental Professionals

No comments: