Taxpayer association weighs in on Great Lakes water levels

EDITOR’S NOTE: This letter has been sent to the International Joint Comission and has been reprinted here at the authors’ request.

To the International Joint Commission studying recommendations for the Great lakes:

The Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands Taxpayers’ Association has been assisting ratepayers in the municipality of NEMI for seven years to address issues of concern. Over that time and currently, the top priority of our membership has been the decline in the water level of Lake Huron. The lake provides the water needed to run our households and maintain our families on a daily basis. It also provides the habitat for our aquatic species, temperature moderation for our land mass, and stability for our property values. Our taxpayers see these eroding on a constant basis by the continued decline in the level of the lake.

The year of 2012 has been an eye opener to our residents. The increasingly rapid decline in water in Lake Huron this year has many households hauling water for their daily needs. Many of those living on the shoreline have had to install much longer water lines, some over 650 feet, to bring water to beach front pumps. This can be maintained until freeze up when above ground lines must be removed. Wells, even beachfront reservoirs, are dry and cisterns struggling to keep up with the need for water for households and livestock. Our CAO, David Williamson, recently surveyed the shoreline by plane and stated on September 17, 2012 that areas such as Honora Bay, a wetland area, have been devastated. Ward 4 residents have reported that in some areas close to 400 feet of dry lake bed is visible and exposed.

We respectfully suggest that the following recommendations be considered:

1. An interim solution to moderately raise the level of Lake Huron be implemented. We strongly support the idea proposed by Ted Cowan of the Bay of Islands Association put forward at the IJC meeting in Little Current in July of 2012. Sinking a freighter at the mouth of the St. Clair River where sand bars have been removed would be a cost effective and non-invasive method to provide immediate relief while further studies be undertaken;

2. A regulation system be installed to control the outflow from Lake Huron to the St. Clair River;

3. The removal of materials used in construction from the bottom of the St. Clair River and Lake St. Clair be immediately halted;

4. More stringent measures be taken at the Chicago diversion to treat and reclaim water diverted from Lake Huron; and

5. Further diversions of water from Lake Huron be stopped.

Our daily way of life is being threatened by massive water losses. Climate cannot be controlled. Outflows from Lake Huron can and must be effectively altered as soon as possible to avoid a catastrophe for our residents. This is the responsible thing to do.

Respectively Submitted by the Board of Directors of the Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands Taxpayers’ Association:

Mark Volpini
Irene Callaghan
Richard Lathwell
Brenda Caloyannis
Emily Weber
Tony Ferro
Robert Paxton
Jack Wood