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Great Lakes Commission urges IJC to accelerate St. Clair River study
Tuesday, October 09, 2007

By Tim Eder, Great Lakes Commission

Citing potential harm to the region’s economy and environment from low water levels, the Great Lakes Commission is urging the International Joint Commission (IJC) to expedite its investigation into changes in the St. Clair River that may be causing lakes Huron and Michigan to drain more rapidly.

The resolution, adopted Oct. 2 at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the Great Lakes Commission, urges the IJC to produce an interim report on physical changes in the river, which drains Lake Huron, by the end of next year. It also calls for an investigation of potential remedies in the event it is determined that erosion of the river bed is causing a decline in lake levels.

“The continuing decline in water levels across our region has serious economic consequences for our regional economy, including maritime transportation, recreational boating, municipal water supply and electrical power generation, along with potential environmental harms” said Michigan Lt. Gov. John Cherry, chair of the Great Lakes Commission. “That’s why we think it’s critical for the IJC to expedite its investigation of changes in the St. Clair River and potential remedial measures, and provide an initial report to the United States and Canada by next year.”

In other business, Lt. Gov. Cherry was re-elected by his fellow Commissioners to a second term as chair, through Oct. 2008. Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, who hosted the Chicago meeting, was re-elected as vice chair.

“The past 12 months have been marked by renewed energy and action by the Commission,” said Lt. Gov. Quinn. “I’m convinced that by working together we can make even more progress protecting our Great Lakes and the vital role they play in our region’s economy.”

The Commission also passed a resolution calling upon the federal government to provide modest funding to adequately maintain Great Lakes recreational harbors, and accepted Great Lakes United and the Alliance for the Great Lakes as official Observer organizations.

Investigations by independent researchers have suggested that erosion in the St. Clair River may be leading to permanent declines in the levels of lakes Huron and Michigan, by increasing outflows. The IJC is studying changes to the Lake Huron outlet as part of its International Upper Great Lakes Study now underway, with a report due out in 2010.

The St. Clair River resolution also urges the U.S. and Canadian governments to provide funding to fully investigate the causes of water declines on the Great Lakes. The Upper Great Lakes Study is an IJC project investigating factors affecting water levels and flows on lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie, including physical processes affecting outflows through the St. Clair River.

The full text of both the water levels resolution and recreational harbor maintenance resolutions are available at http://www.glc.org/about/resolutions.


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