Monday, March 4, 2013

New Organization Presses For Action On Lakes' Water Levels

Mar 4: A newly created Canada – U.S. organization, Restore Our Water International Inc. (ROWI), is urging Federal, State and Provincial governments' to act immediately to resolve the crisis of low water levels in Lakes Michigan and Huron, including Georgian Bay. ROWI is "demanding" that governments finally address what they are calling "the dire economic and ecological impacts of 14 unprecedented years of low and record breaking water levels at the heart of the Great Lakes."
    According to a release, "Over the last 80 years, human activity in the St. Clair and Detroit River corridor has permanently lowered Lakes Michigan and Huron by at least 20 inches. These activities include uncompensated navigation dredging as well as sand and gravel mining, which increased outflows from the middle lakes. These past actions, coupled with a warmer and dryer climate, have resulted in an inability to retain water in the middle and upper Great Lakes. While all the Great lakes are now below their long term averages, Lakes Michigan and Huron are three times lower compared to the others. This is due to the increased Lake Huron outflow at the St. Clair River.
    Roger Gauthier, a retired U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Hydrologist and the Chair of ROWI said, "The Canadian and U.S. governments have to commit the funding and political will to fix this problem. While climate has affected levels in all the lakes, lakes Michigan and Huron have been severely low for the past 14 years. There are solutions to this problem that include underwater weirs or 'speed bumps' that can be placed in the Upper St. Clair River."
    The release indicates that a Canada – U.S. agreement that called for compensation of navigation dredging in 1962 already exists. The agreement was never implemented and never rescinded. ROWI said it "wants the terms of that agreement met and implemented in a responsible manner, respecting both upstream and downstream conditions."
    ROWI is an alliance of Canadian and American organizations concerned about the dire economic and ecological impacts of the last 14 years of low water levels in Lakes Michigan and Huron and in Georgian Bay. ROWI currently consists of 14 appointed directors representing at least 15,000 shoreline property owners and commercial interests along Lakes Michigan and Huron and Georgian Bay.
    On February 15, in a brief letter to President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Mayors from the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (GLSLC) expressed what they are calling a "serious crisis" regarding Great Lakes water levels [See WIMS 2/20/13]. They said in part, "There is a serious crisis on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence right now with water levels on Lakes Michigan and Huron at historic lows and well below average levels on the other lakes and the St.Lawrence. The impacts are widespread and significant. Commercial shipping and recreational boating, water intake structures, coastal wetlands, beaches, and many of the things that are so important to our economic well- being and quality of life are being adversely affected. . ."
    Access a posted release from ROWI (click here). Access the ROWI website with pictures and more information (click here). Access the GLSLC website for more information (click here). [MIGlakes/Levels]
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