International Joint Commission to expedite study of St. Clair River
The International Joint Commission (IJC) announced on Oct. 18 that it will produce a draft report on changes in the St. Clair River that may be contributing to low water levels in Lakes Michigan and Huron by June 2009, with interim reports in 2008. The IJC is investigating whether the erosion is getting worse as part of its ongoing International Upper Great Lakes Study, due to be completed by 2012. Engineering assessments contracted by the Georgian Bay Association have suggested that decades-old dredging and gravel mining may have spurred erosion of the river bed, leading to lower lake levels. Previous reports from the IJC and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have recognized the dredging and mining themselves lowered the lakes by between 13 - 18 inches.
The Great Lakes Commission had previously urged the IJC to expedite its investigation, adopting a resolution to that effect at its 2007 Annual Meeting, Oct. 1-2 in Chicago. Citing potential harm to the region's economy and environment from the low water levels, the Commission called for an interim report on the effect of dredging, erosion and physical changes in the river, the outlet of the two lakes, by the end of next year. The resolution also calls for an investigation of potential remedies in the event it is determined that changes in the river have caused a decline in lake levels. Full text at www.glc.org/about/resolutions. Contact: Tim Eder, email@example.com.
Funding urged for recreational harbor maintenence
Noting the significant role of recreational boating in the regional economy, the Great Lakes Commission is calling upon Congress and the Bush Administration to provide modest funding to adequately maintain Great Lakes recreational harbors. The resolution, adopted at the Commission's 2007 Annual Meeting, Oct. 1-2 in Chicago, notes the deleterious effects that low water levels and a lack of dredging maintenance have had on recreational boating in the region, which generates nearly $4 billion in spending and $10 billion in secondary economic impacts each year, while supporting over 120,000 jobs. The resolution compares these benefits to the $5 million in annual spending the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates it would cost to adequately maintain the region's 78 recreational harbors. Full text at www.glc.org/about/resolutions. Contact: Tim Eder, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cherry, Quinn re-elected
Michigan Lt. Gov. John Cherry has been re-elected unanimously by his fellow Commissioners to a second one-year term as chair of the Great Lakes Commission. The vote, at the 2007 Annual Meeting in Chicago, continues his term through October 2008. Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn was also re-elected to a second term as vice chair. In other actions at the meeting, Commissioners voted to accept Great Lakes United and the Alliance for the Great Lakes as official Observer organizations. Contact: Tim Eder, email@example.com.
Coastal Infrastructure Workshop
A scoping workshop on the condition and viability of Great Lakes coastal protection infrastructure was held in Duluth Oct. 10-11. Co-hosted by the Great Lakes Commission and the NOAA Coastal Services Center, it focused on the aging and deteriorating condition of many of the region's piers, breakwaters and other structures, many of which are nearly a century old and the potential that climate change and low water levels could exacerbate problems. The workshop identified a need to categorize the condition of individual structures, identify risks of failure and the consequences of failure for individual structures and compile them into a regional infrastructure assessment that can be used to inform funding decisions and approach stakeholders for support. The full agenda, including links to visual presentations given at the workshop, is available at www.glc.org/coast/infrastructure.html. Contact: Dave Knight, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advocacy & Legislation -
The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry has voted to reauthorize the Great Lakes Basin Program for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control in the 2007 Farm Bill. An amendment offered by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) reauthorizes the program through 2012 and specifically links it to implementing recommendations of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy to Restore and Protect the Great Lakes. The Basin Program, which supports local projects to benefit water quality on Great Lakes tributaries, is only conservation program in the Farm Bill aimed specifically at the needs to the Great Lakes. The committee is expected to complete its mark-up of the bill today, Oct. 25, and send it to the full Senate for approval.
The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) was sent to President Bush by the House of Representatives on October 23. The President has threatened to veto the measure, which includes provisions that authorize construction and maintenance of the Asian carp barrier at the Chicago ship canal, reauthorize funding for several Great Lakes clean-up and restoration programs and authorize construction of a second lock at Sault Ste. Marie. The bill easily passed both chambers by veto-proof majorities, the Senate 81-12 on Sept. 24 and the House 381-40 in August. Once a bill is delivered to the president, he has 10 days to either approve or veto the measure, or it becomes law automatically.
Katherine Glassner-Shwayder, senior project manager with the Great Lakes Commission, recently presented testimony to a House Natural Resources subcommittee regarding invasive species introduced into the Great Lakes from pathways other than ships, and the measures needed to defend against them. The hearing, held Sept. 27 before the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans, addressed such vectors as trade in live organisms, recreational activities, and migration through canals and waterways that are often overshadowed by ballast water issues yet still merit serious attention. Glassner-Shwayder oversees the Commission's invasive species projects, including staffing of the Great Lakes Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species. For more on the hearing, including links to all testimony, see www.glc.org/announce/07/09testimony.html. Contact: Kathe Glassner-Shwayder, email@example.com.
Ballast water legislation has passed committees in both chambers of Congress. Action on the floor of House of Representatives is predicted late this year. The Great Lakes Commission is urging amendments to accelerate deadlines for installing ballast water treatment technology, and to remove limitations on states' ability to utilize the Clean Water Act or state law to regulate ballast water discharges, if a federal program fails to halt introductions of invasive species.
Lake Superior rebounds
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reports that, due to recent rains in the Lake Superior basin, the lake has risen from a record September low. The lake is now two inches above last year's levels at this time and is predicted to remain close to last year's levels for the rest of the year. Even with the recent rains, Lake Superior remains well below its long-term average. Lakes Michigan, Huron, Erie and St. Clair remain 5-7 inches below last year's levels, while Lake Ontario is 13 inches lower; all are expected to remain below last year's levels. See www.lre.usace.army.mil/greatlakes/hh/greatlakeswaterlevels.
Featured project: GLAD
The Great Lakes Air Deposition (GLAD) program promotes efforts to address the deposition of toxic pollutants to the waters of the Great Lakes region. Coordinated by the Great Lakes Commission, the program directs competitive research grants to scientific efforts seeking to better understand the sources of toxic pollutants, their transport in the environment, their deposition to the Great Lakes basin and the resulting impacts on human health and the Great Lakes ecosystem. The program also works closely with state, federal, local and international regulators and policymakers to promote and coordinate efforts to reduce such deposition and the resulting adverse impacts on human and wildlife health. The GLAD program is currently seeking pre-proposals for projects to be initiated next spring; the deadline for submissions is Nov. 19. For more information, visit www.glc.org/glad. Contact: Jon Dettling, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Great Lakes Regional Data Exchange (RDX) Conference
Oct. 29, 2007
- Great Lakes Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species Meeting
November 28-29, 2007
Ann Arbor, Mich.
- 2008 Semiannual Meeting of the Great Lakes Commission and
Great Lakes Day in Washington
- 2008 Annual Meeting of the Great Lakes Commission
Oct. 6-7, 2008
Québec City, Québec
Great Lakes Commission
Eisenhower Corporate Park
2805 S. Industrial Hwy, Suite 100
Ann Arbor, MI 48104-6791
A News Briefs archive can be found at www.glc.org/email/archive