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GLIN==> Great Lakes Commission - Water Resources Development Act Conference Recommendations



On behalf of its eight Great Lakes member states, the Great Lakes Commission
has delivered a letter with its recommendations to Congress on resolving
priority issues in the two versions of the Water Resource Development Act. 

Issues addressed include:
- the Chicago Sanitary Ship Canal carp barrier,
- the Lake St. Clair - St. Clair River Comprehensive Management Plan,
- the study of the relationships among dredging in the St. Clair River for
navigation, erosion in the River, and water levels in Lakes Michigan and
Huron,
- a second lock at Sault Ste. Marie,
- planning assistance to states,
- increasing the authorization level for projects under Section 1135, which
provides funding for sea lamprey barriers, 
- a new authority to provide support for small dam removal
- expanding the authority for the beneficial re-use of dredged sediments for
restoration, habitat creation, construction and other projects.

The text of the letter is below and the original is attached. The same
version was sent to House of Representatives committee Chairman and Ranking
Members. 



September 12, 2006

The Honorable James M. Inhofe		The Honorable James M. Jeffords
453 Russell Senate Office Building		413 Dirksen Senate Office
Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3603			Washington, D.C. 20510-4503

Re: Conference committee recommendations - Water Resources Development Act

Dear Senators Inhofe and Jeffords:

The Great Lakes Commission (GLC), an interstate compact agency founded in
state and federal law, is dedicated to the informed use, management and
protection of the Great Lakes basin. On behalf of our eight member states,
we thank you for your strong support to reauthorize the Water Resource
Development Act (WRDA) that will protect and help to restore the Great Lakes
and maintain the economic vitality of the region. The GLC has compared the
versions of reauthorizing legislation passed by the House (H.R. 2864) and
Senate (S. 728) and strongly urges the conferees to:

*	Support section 5006 of the Senate-passed bill, authorizing the
Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal Dispersal Barriers Project, and section
3051(c) of H.R. 2864 authorizing a feasibility study, including the
economic, social and environmental consequences, for the biological
separation of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basins to prevent the
spread of aquatic species. Authority and funding to complete the
construction and continue the operation and maintenance of this barrier is
essential to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp. Commercial, municipal
and recreation interests in both the Mississippi River and Great Lakes
basins have already been permanently harmed by aquatic invasive species.

*	Support section 3064 of the Senate-passed bill, authorizing projects
consistent with the St. Clair River-Lake St. Clair Comprehensive Management
Plan (developed under Sec. 426, WRDA 1999) and a 25 percent cost-sharing
component, which may be provided through in-kind services and may include a
non-profit entity. Lake St. Clair is a vital part of the connecting channel
between Lake Huron and Lake Erie that is used for commercial navigation,
drinking water and recreation for millions of people in Southeast Michigan
and Ontario.  The Senate language authorizes adequate funding to coordinate
federal, state and local efforts to restore and protect the lake from
problems that threaten public health and limit uses of the lake. It builds
on a comprehensive management plan already in place and enjoys the support
of local stakeholders and Michigan's Congressional delegation.

*	Support section 4053 of the House-passed bill, authorizing a study
of relationships among dredging the St. Clair River for navigation, erosion
of the river, and declining water levels in the river and in Lakes Michigan
and Huron. This study is of critical importance to commercial navigation
interests, shoreline property owners and others concerned about declining
water levels. The study will ascertain whether channel modifications in the
St. Clair River have permanently lowered water levels on Lakes Huron and
Michigan, which provide nearly 40 percent of the total freshwater reserves
of the Great Lakes.

*	Support section 3075 of the House-passed bill, authorizing
construction of a second lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan at full federal
expense of $3.417 million. This provision is essential for the strategic and
economic security of the nation. 

*	Support section 2009 of the Senate-passed bill, authorizing
technical assistance to state agency or non-federal interests in managing
water resources at a level of $10.0 million annually. The reauthorization of
this authority would maintain current funding levels for the Section 22,
Planning Assistance to States program used extensively throughout the Great
Lakes region.  This authority has been used effectively to cost-share
strategic municipal and county level projects focused on flood and erosion
control, watershed water quality and habitat improvements and human health
protection. 

*	Support section 2034 of the Senate-passed bill, authorizing $50.0
million annually to carry out section 1135 of WRDA 1986. This authority is
used to design and construct sea lamprey barriers and traps in the Great
Lakes, which are critical to control and eradicate this invasive species and
prevent it from devastating valuable sport fishery resources in the region.
The Senate language increases the annual authorized funding level for this
highly successful program, which faces greater demands than can be addressed
under the current authority. 

*	Support section 2037 of the Senate-passed bill, authorizing small
dam removal or rehabilitation projects if it will improve the quality of the
environment, or is in the public interest, with a non-federal cost share of
35 percent for construction and 100 percent of operation and maintenance
costs, and provides $25.0 million for each fiscal year. Currently, most
Great Lakes tributaries are biologically separated from the open waters of
the Great Lakes by dams and other structures, reducing the capacity of the
fishery to access necessary habitat. This new authority would allow for
federal engineering support to States, counties and municipalities for
critical watershed restoration projects supported by local interests.

*	Support section 2012 of the House-passed bill, authorizing the use
of dredged sediment for projects in the public interest associated with
navigation, flood damage reduction, hydroelectric power, municipal and
industrial water supply, agricultural water supply, recreation, hurricane
and storm damage reduction, aquatic plant control, and environmental
protection and restoration, and to develop plans for regional management of
sediment. Current WRDA authority limits the Corps' ability to use dredged
material beneficially only for purposes of aquatic habitat restoration,
resulting in lost opportunities for a variety of other beneficial in-water
and upland purposes. Expanding authority for beneficial use of dredged
material will reduce costs and preserve limited space in Confined Disposal
Facilities and is a longstanding priority of the Great Lakes Dredging Team
and is explicitly addressed in the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration
Strategy.  An outstanding example is the U.S. Steel South Works reclamation
project in Chicago recently spearheaded by Lt. Governor Quinn of Illinois
where dredged material was used to convert the slag-covered industrial site
to lakefront parkland.

Thank you for considering these important requests. The Commission and our
eight Great Lakes member states appreciate your continued leadership on
issues of priority interest to our region. Should you have any questions
please contact Tim Eder, Executive Director, at 734-971-9135 or
teder@glc.org.

Sincerely,

 
Thomas E. Huntley, Ph.D.
Chairman



Tim Eder, Exec Director
Great Lakes Commission
2805 So Industrial Hwy, Suite 100
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
734-971-9135 ext 101
734-604-7281
teder@glc.org
www.glc.org

 

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