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GLIN==>> Good news re: water level gauging stations

THANKS to the many glin-announce recipients that responded to our recent

invitation to weigh in on this issue. The news is good! Based on
comments received at the 6/15/99 meeting with NOAA officials in Ann
Arbor, Mich., the 13 stations proposed for elimination will be
maintained at a basic level, as resources permit, for a minimum of 12
months. More details are included below.

In May 1999, NOAA's National Ocean Service (NOS) released a report
proposing the elimination of 13 of 49 water level gauging stations on
the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River system. Budget constraints, combined
with the need to upgrade stations for Y2K compliance and automation
purposes, prompted the downsizing plan. The proposal took many Great
Lakes interests by surprise and, in recent weeks, a GLIN announcement
posted by the Great Lakes Commission elicited letters and calls of
concern from many constituency groups. The Commission expressed its
concern via correspondence to NOAA and every member of the Great Lakes
Congressional Delegation.

Fluctuations in water levels can dramatically affect commercial
navigation and recreational boating, both multibillion dollar economic
sectors in the Great Lakes basin.  Also, Great Lakes jurisdictions are
faced with many complex issues associated with lake level regulation,
dredging needs and priorities, and issues of water withdrawal,
consumptive use and removal, including export. NOAA data provides a
basis for sound decisionmaking for Great Lakes states regarding these
issues, and reducing gauging capability will compromise their ability to

make such decisions.

"Operational budget constraints nonwithstanding, we believe the proposal

is ill-advised," stated Commission Executive Director Mike Donahue in a
letter to Nancy Foster, assistant administrator at NOAA. "In fact, we
believe the economic consequences of this dramatic reduction in gauging
capability will far outweigh the modest savings to the National Ocean
Service." For complete text of this letter, see

In response to growing concerns, a June 15 meeting between NOS officials

and various
constituents was held at NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research
Laboratory (GLERL) in Ann Arbor, Mich. Extended discussions resulted in
a compromise agreement that appears to meet the interests of all parties

over the short term (i.e., 12 months) while a long-term solution is
developed. Approximately $390,000 would be required for the upgrading
and maintenance of the 13 stations. The following outcomes resulted from

the meeting:

* The 13 stations proposed for elimination will be maintained at a basic

level, as resources permit, for a minimum of 12 months.

* To fund this, upgrading of 1-2 other stations will be delayed.

* GLERL and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Detroit District) will
assist with
processing station data.

* The broader Great Lakes-St. Lawrence constituency will be consulted
over the course of the next 12 months concerning the 13 stations and
their future status. The Great Lakes Commission agrees to lead/assist
with constituency notification and the conduct of a hearing, survey or
associated mechanism.

* Based upon results of constituent input, recommendations will be
directed to NOAA and Congress to ensure the upgrading and maintenance of

stations of interest.

Note: Comments from the Great Lakes constituency are still timely and
appropriate. 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

Comments and questions regarding the Commission's policy on this issue
should be directed to Mike Donahue, mdonahue@glc.org.