Commission hails President Obama’s $475 million Great Lakes Initiative
President Barack Obama’s vision for Great Lakes restoration gained more clarity with the May 7 release of additional detail on a FY10 spending plan for $475 million in restoration and protection programs for the lakes. The Great Lakes Commission hails the President’s new “Great Lakes Restoration Initiative” and the needed funding that it will provide to restore the lakes and kick-start the regional economy.
The Initiative will be led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) and will target five strategic priorities: aquatic invasive species; toxic pollution and Areas of Concern; nonpoint source pollution and nearshore health; habitat restoration; and monitoring and assessment.
“Now is the time to clean up the Great Lakes,” said Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, chairman of the Great Lakes Commission. “I urge Congress to support the President’s commitment to clean water by approving funding for this important restoration initiative.”
For more information:
- Region Unites for Congressional Action on Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in President’s Budget www.glc.org/announce/09/05region.html (5/14/09)
- Great Lakes Commission hails President Obama’s $475 million Great Lakes Initiative
Contact: Tim Eder, email@example.com.
Upper Great Lakes study recommends no remedial measures
Between 1962 (when the last major dredging of the St. Clair River occurred) and 2006, the difference in water levels between Lake Michigan-Huron and Lake Erie declined by about nine inches, according to the study. It attributed the decline to three key factors: a dramatic and rapid change in conveyance in the mid-1980s, possibly from a major ice jam in 1984; changes in climatic patterns; and glacial isostatic adjustment, the rebounding of the Earth’s crust from the weight of the glaciers, which retreated 10,000 years ago. While the Study Board recommended that remedial measures not be immediately pursued, it suggested that they “be examined as part of the comprehensive assessment of the future effects of climate change to water supplies in the basin” in the second phase of the Upper Great Lakes Study, focusing on Lake Superior. Contact: Roger Gauthier, firstname.lastname@example.org.
A draft report issued May 1 by the International Upper Great Lakes Study suggested that while there has been an increase in the rate of outflow on the St. Clair River from Lake Huron to Lake Erie between 1962 and 2006, it is likely due to natural, not man-made, forces; is not ongoing; and not problematic enough to warrant remedial action “at this time.” The report was overseen by a 10-member team of experts and public members from the United States and Canada and involved 42 research projects carried out by more than 100 scientists.
Corps receives $75 million in stimulus money for Great Lakes navigation, but none for Soo Lock expansion
Dredging projects in the Corps’ Detroit District will total $7.8 million and will include 10 harbors, both shallow draft recreational harbors and deep draft commercial ports. Structural repair projects totaling $21.5 million will focus on three locations: Petoskey, Mich. at $4 million; Saugatuck, Mich., $10 million; and Sturgeon Bay, Wis. , $7.5 million. The Fox River Flood Control project in Wisconsin received $6 million for repairs of four dams. In the Chicago District, repairs to the Chicago River lock received $17.6 million and Calumet Harbor $1.1 million. Buffalo District appropriations included $7.4 million for the Cleveland harbor; $2.49 million for the Tonawanda, N.Y., harbor; $1.22 million for Huron, Ohio, harbor; $1.1 million for Sandusky, Ohio; $990 for Fairport Harbor; $975,000 for Toledo and $820,000 for Dunkirk, N.Y., where siltation had completely closed the commercial port.
While money for the Soo Lock expansion was not included in Recovery Act projects, the Corps has indicated plans to go ahead with a construction start this summer using $17 million appropriated in the previously enacted omnibus spending bill. Bids for construction of coffer dams at the site are to be awarded on June 1, and bids for deepening the downstream approach to the new lock will be awarded in mid-July. Contact: Dave Knight, email@example.com.
A recently released list of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects in the Great Lakes to be federally funded by Recovery Act (stimulus) money totaled $74.797 million, but did not include any funding for the Soo Locks Expansion Project. Of some $4.6 billion appropriated to the Corps for its Civil Works program nationally, $2 billion was designated for new construction and $2.075 billion for operation and maintenance (O&M). The Great Lakes’ share included no dollars for new construction; the almost $75 million was exclusively for O&M and will be used primarily for dredging and structural repairs to existing navigational infrastructure such as aging piers, revetments and breakwalls. The Corps’ allocation of stimulus funding to the Great Lakes ¬– less than two percent of the national total – left many in the region disappointed.
Four cruise ships plan Great Lakes itineraries in 2009
Two familiar Great Lakes cruise ships, Grande Mariner and Niagara Prince, will offer two six-night cruises each in June and July on Lake Michigan from Chicago. Ports of call will include Holland, Manistee and Mackinac Island, Mich.; and Sturgeon Bay and Milwaukee, Wis. Conducting a series of cruises again on the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers will be Canadian Empress, a 66-passenger replicated steamboat based in Kingston, Ontario. For more information on Great Lakes overnight cruise opportunities in 2009, refer to the website of the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition at www.greatlakescruisingcoalition.com.
Four overnight cruise ships will be sailing in the Great Lakes this year, including two for the first time, and one newly built ship on her maiden voyage. Newcomers to the lakes will include Clelia II, a 100-passenger, yacht-like vessel, launched earlier this year following a major refurbishing and offering all suites for accommodations. Clelia II will spend much of the summer and early autumn in the Great Lakes conducting 12 eight-day cruises between Toronto and Duluth. Port calls will include Little Current on Manitoulin Island, Mackinac Island, the Keweenaw Peninsula, and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Coming into the Great Lakes for two cruises in October between Quebec City and Toronto will be Pearl Mist, a brand new, 335-ft. vessel with 108 staterooms.
Asian carp barrier activated on Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal
At last report, the Corps and the U.S. Coast Guard were still evaluating safety measures before clearing the barrier for use at full power. It is currently operating at about one-quarter of its maximum voltage. The Corps, Coast Guard and representatives of the navigation industry have enacted a memorandum of agreement that will allow the Corps to fully activate the second barrier if the first barrier fails. Contact: Kathe Glassner-Shwayder, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers activated a long-planned second – and more permanent – electric Asian carp barrier on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal in April, though at low voltages as safety testing continues. The unit is just downstream from the first barrier installed as a temporary measure in 2002 to prevent Asian carp from migrating from the Mississippi River system to the Great Lakes. Construction of the $9 million new barrier was actually completed in 2007, but concerns about the safety of commercial barges and recreational boaters using the waterway had delayed activation.
Water levels continue upward trend
Water levels on lakes Michigan, Huron and Superior this spring continued a steady climb and, heading into the boating and heaviest commercial navigation seasons, are significantly higher than at the same time last year. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers water level summaries for April 2009, the Lake Michigan-Huron system was 11 inches higher than last year at this time, due primarily to above average precipitation in the basin. Lake Superior was five inches higher than last year. All three lakes, however, remain below their long term average levels, lakes Michigan and Huron by eight inches, and Lake Superior by six inches. Lakes Erie and Ontario continue to track more closely with their long-term averages; Lake Erie was up one inch from the same time last year and Lake Ontario was down two inches.
Great Lakes Wind Collaborative plans annual meeting in Milwaukee
In addition to updates on wind power activities throughout the Great Lakes region, the agenda will feature discussion on offshore turbine siting, issues involved in integrating wind power into the energy grid, and research on wildlife impacts. Also planned is a “virtual field trip” to Wisconsin’s Forward Wind Farm to demonstrate how large-scale development of land-based wind turbines has progressed near Horicon Marsh, home to diverse wildlife such as Canada geese, ducks, heron, water birds and other species. Participants will hear preliminary results of wildlife interaction monitoring at the wind farm and how wildlife studies are carried out in the field. Contact: John Hummer, email@example.com.
May 9 is the deadline to make hotel reservations at a special rate for the Great Lakes Wind Collaborative’s 2nd Annual Meeting planned for June 10-11, 2009, at We Energies’ headquarters in Milwaukee, Wis. Single rooms for $99 a night are being held at the Hilton Milwaukee City Center (414-271-7250) until May 9; additional rooms at $109 a night are being held at the Pfister Hotel and the InterContinental Milwaukee, both of which are within walking distance of the meeting facility. Registration for the meeting can be completed online at www.glc.org/energy/wind/conf2009.html; the meeting registration deadline is May 29.