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E-M:/ St. Clair River Dredging drains Great Lakes
- Subject: E-M:/ St. Clair River Dredging drains Great Lakes
- From: "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2005 13:41:08 -0500
- Delivered-to: email@example.com
- Delivered-to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- List-name: Enviro-Mich
- Reply-to: "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <email@example.com>
Enviro-Mich message from "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
?A Bigger Drain Hole in the Great Lakes
Threatens Region?s Environment, Economy?
TORONTO, ONTARIO (January 24)? Shoreline alteration, historical aggregate
riverbed mining and navigation dredging are resulting in ongoing erosion at
the bottom of the St. Clair River and have resulted in the permanent and
continuing lowering of water levels on Lakes Michigan and Huron, according
to a new report issued today.
?In 1962, a shipping channel was dredged out of the St. Clair River that
effectively opened a bigger drain hole in the Great Lakes,? said John
Pepperell, president of Georgian Bay Association, a Canadian non-profit
organization which coordinated the six-month study by W.F. Baird &
Associates Coastal Engineers for GBA Foundation, a registered Canadian
research charity. ?Everyone knew about the one-time loss of water that was
caused when that channel was first opened. However, we have now discovered
that ongoing erosion is making the outlet from Lake Huron larger, allowing
water to leave faster than had been recognized.?
According to the report, the channel is eroding and is now over 60 feet
deep at critical sections near the outflow. It only needs to be 30 feet
deep for shipping. Pepperell said that ?without implementation of
corrective measures, this drop represents an irreversible and ongoing
decline in the long-term average levels of Lakes Michigan and Huron.?
W.F. Baird & Associates found that declines in actual water level since the
mid 1800s in Lakes Michigan and Huron are double the latest International
Joint Commission (IJC) estimates. According to Baird, the amount of water
permanently withdrawn from the entire surface of Lakes Michigan/Huron is
close to 80cm or 32 in. That is the equivalent of 28 times the volume of
water in Lake St. Clair or ¼ the volume of water in Lake Erie.
?The recent riverbed erosion is unprecedented, even on a geologic time
scale,? said Rob Nairn, author of the report. ?It has led to a significant
lowering of Lakes Michigan and Huron with corresponding implications for
the economy and environment.?
Lower lake levels impact the amount of cargo that ships can transport
through the lakes, the access and value of property along the shores, and
the quantity and quality of habitat for wildlife. The report?s findings
also have legal implications under the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty.
?This report is a wake-up call,? said Georgian Baykeeper Mary Muter. ?In
recent years we have had a significant number of wetlands dry up on
Georgian Bay, and the aquatic life forced out onto steep granite shorelines
among the 30,000 islands cannot survive. Continued low water levels will
threaten an already declining fishery. We need to protect the ecology and
economy of this region, and we?re asking the Canadian and U.S. governments
to take appropriate action and stop the water loss from our lakes.?
For two generations the continuing decline resulting in
permanent withdrawals has gone undetected by the U.S. and Canadian
governments and the agencies charged with monitoring Great Lakes water
levels (the IJC, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Environment Canada). In
part, the problem was masked by the cyclical high water levels that
dominated from the mid 1970s, through the 1980s and into the 1990s and may
be related to government cutbacks in funding for the important monitoring
of the finite resource we have in Lakes Michigan/Huron.
The report comes at a time when the IJC is undertaking a study of the Lower
Great Lakes and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Transport Canada are
studying the future prospects for Great Lakes commercial navigation. The
government agencies will now have to re-calculate the math for outflows and
net basin supply numbers (precipitation, runoff minus evaporation,
diversions and outflow).
?This report serves as a cautionary tale to those who want to tinker with
our Great Lakes,? said Tim Eder, the National Wildlife Federation?s
director of Water Resources. ?You can?t fool Mother Nature. We can?t keep
dredging deeper channels for navigation without serious repercussions for
the people and wildlife who depend on Great Lakes waters.?
?The Great Lakes are more than simply a navigation corridor, and the time
has come for the management of the lakes to reflect that,? said Jennifer
Nalbone, habitat and biodiversity coordinator for Great Lakes United, a
bi-national environmental organization. ?We have to stop treating the Great
Lakes as though they can be literally molded to fit our short-term economic
desires. We need a transportation system that fits within the physical
confines of the Great Lakes ecosystem, not vice versa.?
The study takes into account other factors which influence lake levels,
including fluctuations in precipitation and the effects of glacial
rebound?the rise of large masses of land that were depressed by the huge
weight of ice sheets during the last ice age. The study shows that levels
in Lakes Michigan and Huron have declined more than can be attributed to
any factor other than erosion of the St. Clair riverbed.
Lakes Superior and Ontario have control structures to manage lake levels
under a variety of climate conditions. There are no such control structures
for Lakes Michigan and Huron. Once the water is gone, it is gone.
?Today, we have sophisticated methods of monitoring available but this
study clearly shows the need and importance of using and making those tools
available,? said Cheryl Mendoza, from Lake Michigan Federation. ?At a time
when Canada and the United States are negotiating how to monitor and
regulate Great Lakes water usage, we are witnessing a constant and
large-scale permanent loss of water under the noses of both governments.?
GBA Foundation, a Canadian research and education charity, commissioned the
report in response to concerns expressed by Georgian Bay Association?s over
4,000 member families. W.F. Baird & Associates Coastal Engineers Ltd. is an
internationally respected coastal-engineering consulting firm.
?Regime Change (Man-Made Intervention) and Ongoing Erosion in the St. Clair
River and Impacts on Lake Michigan-Huron Lake Levels? Technical and Non
Technical Summaries are available in PDF format www.georgianbay.ca
For Immediate Release: January 24, 2005
Mary Muter, Georgian Baykeeper for GBA Foundation, 416-489-8101
John Pepperell, Georgian Bay Association 416-983-3721
Jennifer Nalbone, Great Lakes United, 716-213-0408
Cheryl Mendoza, Lake Michigan Federation, 616-850-0745
Tim Eder, National Wildlife Federation, 734-769-3351, ext. 25
Jordan Lubetkin, National Wildlife Federation, 734-769-3351, ext. 49
Gregor Beck, Ontario Nature, 416-444-8419 ext. 237
Rob Nairn, W.F. Baird & Associates Coastal Engineers, 416-489-8101
Wendy Douglas, World Wildlife Fund Canada 416-484-7726
Regional Communications Manager
Great Lakes Natural Resource Center
National Wildlife Federation
213 W. Liberty, Suite 200
Ann Arbor, MI 48104-1398
Alex J. Sagady & Associates http://www.sagady.com
Environmental Enforcement, Permit/Technical Review, Public Policy,
Evidence Review and Litigation Investigation on Air, Water and
Waste/Community Environmental and Resource Protection
Prospectus at: http://www.sagady.com/sagady.pdf
PO Box 39, East Lansing, MI 48826-0039
(517) 332-6971; (517) 332-8987 (fax); email@example.com
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