The International Joint Commission said that it will hold public consultations from March 22-31, 2010 to invite comment on the report of its International Upper Great Lakes Study Board entitled Impacts on Upper Great Lakes Water Levels: St. Clair River.
The report concludes the first phase of the International Upper Great Lakes Study and examines the physical changes in the St. Clair River since 1962. It recommends that measures to remediate the increased conveyance, or water-carrying capacity, of the river not be undertaken at this time. It also recommends that mitigation measures in the St. Clair River be examined as part of the comprehensive assessment of the future effects of climate change in the second phase of the study.
The International Joint Commission of Canada and the United States on March 28, released for public comment a proposed new Order of Approval and a proposed new plan, called Plan 2007, for regulating the flows through the Moses-Saunders Dam between Cornwall, Ontario and Massena, New York. The regulation affects water levels and flows in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River downstream to Trois-Rivières.
For nearly 50 years, the Commission has regulated levels and flows of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River as far as Trois-Rivières. In addition to the economic benefits from hydroelectric power and the St. Lawrence Seaway, regulation has provided benefits, by reducing the occurrence of extreme high and low water levels, which annually average (in value) $28.5 million to shoreline property owners and $3.5 million to recreational boaters. Plan 2007 would provide $5.5 million in new benefits on average each year.
“We are releasing Plan 2007 and a proposed new Order for public comment today because we believe they are the best that can be implemented at this time. The Commission must consider the requirements of the Treaty for protection and indemnification of interests that may be injured by the project. It also must consider the goals of the two federal governments when the project was developed which included providing benefits to Lake Ontario shoreline owners and protecting interests downstream,” said Irene Brooks, Chair of the U.S. Section of the Commission.
Compared to the current plan (Plan 58-D with deviations), Plan 2007 provides better results for key environmental performance indicators, while maintaining or improving protections for all other interests. The other interests include shoreline property, recreational boating, commercial navigation, hydroelectric power generation and water supply.
It also provides the flexibility to shift from Plan 2007 to a plan with additional environmental improvements, whenever adequate mitigation measures could be implemented. Measures that have been implemented elsewhere include enhanced shoreline protection or dredging of harbours. The proposed new Order, for the first time, will regulate flows to benefit the environment and recreational boating along with the other interests named above.
Washington Frank Bevacqua 202-736-9024; Ottawa Greg McGillis 613-947-1420
Citing potential harm to the region’s economy and environment from low water levels, the Great Lakes Commission is urging the International Joint Commission to expedite its investigation into changes in the St. Clair River that may be causing lakes Huron and Michigan to drain more rapidly.
The resolution, adopted Oct. 2 at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the Great Lakes Commission, urges the IJC to produce an interim report on physical changes in the river, which drains Lake Huron, by the end of next year. It also calls for an investigation of potential remedies in the event it is determined that erosion of the river bed is causing a decline in lake levels.
“The continuing decline in water levels across our region has serious economic consequences for our regional economy, including maritime transportation, recreational boating, municipal water supply and electrical power generation, along with potential environmental harms” said Michigan Lt. Gov. John Cherry, chair of the Great Lakes Commission. “That’s why we think it’s critical for the IJC to expedite its investigation of changes in the St. Clair River and potential remedial measures, and provide an initial report to the U.S. and Canada by next year.”
Investigations by independent researchers have suggested that erosion in the St. Clair River may be leading to permanent declines in the levels of lakes Huron and Michigan, by increasing outflows. The IJC is studying changes to the Lake Huron outlet as part of its International Upper Great Lakes Study now underway, with a report due out in 2010.
The St. Clair River resolution also urges the U.S. and Canadian governments to provide funding to fully investigate the causes of water declines on the Great Lakes. The Upper Great Lakes Study is an IJC project investigating factors affecting water levels and flows on lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie, including physical processes affecting outflows through the St. Clair River.
The full text of both the water levels resolution and recreational harbor maintenance resolutions is available at www.glc.org/about/resolutions.
Contact: Tim Eder, firstname.lastname@example.org.?Office: 734/971.9135?Fax: 734/971.9150 October 9