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GLIN==> NEMW/Great Lakes Hill Update - Appropriations/NOAA Gauges



        During last night's debate, the Senate passed by voice vote an amendment
to the Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary Appropriations bill which would 
ensure the long-term continued operation of the Great Lakes Water Level 
Observation Network.  Senators DeWine (R-OH) and Levin (D-MI) offered the 
amendment, speaking as the Senate co-chairs of the Great Lakes Task Force of the
Northeast-Midwest Coalition.

        In May of this year, NOAA's National Ocean Service proposed the 
elimination of 13 of 49 water level gauging stations on the Great Lakes-St. 
Lawrence River system.  The downsizing was prompted by the need to upgrade the 
network to Y2K compliance which could not be accomplished within the existing 
operational budget constraints.  A sizeable portion of the constituency using 
this data was not consulted during the process which determined the 13 stations 
slated for closure. Following a mid-June meeting of concerned interest groups at
a mid-June meeting hosted by NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research 
Laboratory in Ann Arbor, MI, the National Ocean Service committed to maintain 
the stations for 12 months pending potential identification of alternative 
sources of funding for the station upgrades.

        The $390,000 provided to the National Ocean Service by the amendment 
meets the estimated cost of upgrading the additional 13 stations.  When the new 
technology comes on line, NOAA estimates that operational expenses should fall 
to approximately half of the current level.  Using those estimates, the system 
upgrades should pay for themselves in 5-10 years.

Stations affected by the amendments:
        The stations set to be closed are:
                Alexandria Bay/St. Lawrence River, NY, 1983
                        Olcott/Lake Ontario, NY, 1967
                        Sturgeon Pt./Lake Erie, NY, 1969
                        Erie/Lake Erie, PA, 1958
                        Fermi/Lake Erie, MI, 1963
                        Fort Wayne/Detroit River, MI, 1901
                        St.Clair Police/St. Clair River, MI, 1944
                        Dry Dock/St. Clair River, MI, 1899
                        Mouth of the Black River/ St. Clair River, MI, 1901
                        Dunn Paper/St. Clair River, MI, 1955
                        Lakeport/Lake Huron, MI, 1955
                        Essexville/Lake Huron, MI, 1953
                        Kewaunee/Lake Michigan, WI, 1974

                **Station/location, state, beginning of record**

        The affected stations include several stations which provide key 
comparisons for the long-term record of water levels and many stations located 
in connecting channels which provide key information on water transfer among the
lakes.  Local communities would have been most severely affected by the loss of 
data from stations located at upstream sites.  For example, Lake Erie water 
levels are most directly affected by the rate of water flow through the Detroit 
and St. Clair Rivers.     
     

     Rochelle Sturtevant
     Coordinator, Senate Great Lakes Task Force
     459 Russell Senate Building
     Washington, DC 20510
     Rochelle_Sturtevant@levin.senate.gov
     
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