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ACTION ALERT: NOAA to remove 13 Great Lakes water level gauges



ACTION ALERT

Note: The attached letter from Dr. Michael Donahue, executive director
of the Great Lakes Commission, was sent to Nancy Foster, NOAA Asst.
Administrator (Ocean Service and Coastal Zone Management), and to all
members of the Great Lakes Congressional Delegation on May 10, 1999.

The Great Lakes Commission urges members of the Great Lakes community to
send similar letters voicing their concerns over the proposed removal of
13 water level gauges within the Great Lakes basin.

Letters can be sent to:

Nancy Foster, Asst. Administrator
Ocean Service and Coastal Zone Management
National Ocean Service - NOAA
U.S. Department of Commerce
Silver spring, MD 20910
Email: Nancy.Foster@noaa.gov
Phone: 301-713-3074 x 154
Fax: 301-713-4269

The Great Lakes Commission would appreciate copies of any correspondence
on this issue.
---

Ms. Nancy Foster, Asst. Administrator
Ocean Service and Coastal Zone Management
National Ocean Service - NOAA
U.S. Department of Commerce
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Dear Ms. Foster:

I am writing on behalf of the eight Great Lakes states, acting through
the Great Lakes Commission, to voice concern over the proposed removal
of 13 water level gauges within the Great Lakes basin. Operational
budget constraints notwithstanding, we believe
the proposal is ill-advised. In fact, we believe the economic
consequences of this dramatic reduction in gauging capability will far
outweigh the modest savings to NOAA's National Ocean Service.

The Great Lakes system is experiencing dramatic declines in water levels
from just a year ago, ranging from an 8" drop in Lake Superior to 30" on
Lake Ontario. This reduction has already had profound impacts on
commercial navigation (e.g. multiple groundings), and recreational
boating (e.g. closed harbors, increased hazards):  both multi-billion
dollar economic sectors in the Great Lakes Basin. Also, Great Lakes
jurisdictions at the federal, state, provincial and binational levels
are now confronting a series of complex issues associated with lake
level regulation, dredging needs and priorities, and issues of water
withdrawal, consumptive use and removal, including export.

All of these issues have one thing in common: they are fundamentally
dependent upon the accurate and comprehensive data provided by the 49
long-term Great Lakes stations in the National Water Level Observation
Network. The Great Lakes states, among other Great Lakes jurisdictions,
rely upon this network as a decision support system for their resource
management and policy making responsibilities.

It is most unfortunate that the proposed reduction in gauging capability
comes at a time
when such capability is needed most. On behalf of the entire Great Lakes
Commission
membership, I urge you to abandon plans for the proposed removal of 13
stations.  I
appreciate your consideration and welcome a call at 734-665-9135.

Sincerely,

Michael J. Donahue, Ph.D.
Executive Director

cc: Members, Great Lakes Congressional Delegation

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BACKGROUND
During calendar year 1999, NOAA's National Ocean Service is proposing to
eliminate 13 of 49 gauging stations currently maintained by NOAA on the
Great Lakes. According to NOAA, the remaining 36 stations will be
upgraded with modern gauges. Partnership arrangements for specific
stations scheduled for removal are possible with the appropriate
federal, state and local agencies. A May 1999 report, prepared by NOAA's
NOS Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services,
documents the two-year decisionmaking process that resulted in this
decision.

For a map showing all gauging stations on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence
System, see http://www.great-lakes.net/envt/water/levelsc.html