Residents urged to relay water level concerns to IJC at Sunday meeting

Tom Sasvari

The Recorder

MANITOULIN—This Sunday, July 15 (not Saturday, as was printed in The Expositor page 1 headline this week) at the Little Current Recreation Centre, members of the public will be given the opportunity to express their concerns about the continued water loss from Lake Huron to members of the International Joint Commission (IJC).

“We want to get the word out that we need as many members of the public on hand as we can get, to provide input and relay their concerns with the water losses we have seen over the past 12 years,” Therese Trainor, of the Manitoulin Area Stewardship Council (MASC), told the Recorder last week.

“Lakes Huron and Michigan have been losing water now for over a dozen years,” a MASC press release states. “In its history, this sustained loss is unprecedented. Meanwhile, water levels in the lower Lakes (Erie and Ontario) have increased.”

“What’s causing the loss? Primarily the increased capacity allowing extra water to drain out of Lake Huron through the St. Clair River; the result of mining, dredging, erosion, and shoreline hardening,” MASC says. “The 1960s dredging caused even more water to be lost than was approved, and the repairs agreed to by the US and Canadian governments were never carried out.”

The MASC release further points out, “the International Joint Commission (IJC), responsible for managing the levels and flows of the Great Lakes, recognizes the water loss/declining water level problem. They asked the International Upper Great Lakes Study Board to explore ways of restoring the Lakes’ water levels and investigate how to regulate them to avoid water level extremes.”

The MASC release states that the Study Board analysis “concluded that several of the technologies were technically feasible,” and “the results showed a mix of benefits and costs for the key interests served by the upper Great Lakes system.” The board also found, “multi-lake regulation may have potential to address extreme water levels in the upper Great Lakes basin. However, it makes no recommendation to the IJC for restoring water levels in Lakes Huron and Michigan and its analysis ignores the huge cost of doing nothing.”

The conditions caused by low and falling water levels around Lakes Huron-Michigan have become serious, the MASC release continues. “Continued water loss will have profound consequences for millions of people and may push the system beyond its point of resiliency.”

“We are asking people who live on the Great Lakes to tell us if the Study Boards’ recommendations for managing water supplies on the Upper Great Lakes meet their need or if other changes need be considered,” said Joe Comuzzi, chair of the IJC’s Canadian section, in a press release.

“Commissioners will carefully consider all concerns regarding the regulation of water levels in the Great Lakes before arriving at a decision that balances and suitably protects the interests of all,” said Lana Pollack, chair of the US section.

The hearing will take place on Sunday, July 15 at the Little Current Recreation Centre. Doors will open at noon in the upstairs hall of the recreation centre for registration, with the hearing to begin at 2 pm, starting with a presentation by the IJC and comments from the six commissioners. Following that, names of those who registered will be called to come forward and speak. Copies of photos or other ‘evidence’ is also welcomed by the commissioners, in either hard or electronic format.