On November 28th I commented on the declining water levels in Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. The local probus club in Collingwood was recently treated to an excellent presentation by Mary Muter, Chair of the Envrionment Committee for the Georgian Bay Association. On behalf of the Association, Ms. Muter has been actively involved in studies pertaining to the drastic water level reductions in the Great Lakes, primarily in Lakes Michigan and Huron which of course includes Georgian Bay.
Statistics regarding water levels in the Great Lakes have been maintained since the turn of the century with the last 2o or so years reflecting a steady, if not increasing rate of decline in lake levels most notably in the two bodies of water noted above. Unlike Lakes Superior, Erie and Ontario all of which have control gates to limit their outflow, Lakes Michigan and Huron have no means of controlling the exit of water which happens via the St. Clair River at Windsor and Sarnia. Great Lakes shipping lanes require a depth of 30 feet in order to accomodate the freighter traffic that plies their waters. In the early 1960's, the areas in and around the St. Clair River were dredged in order to increase its depth to faciltate shipping traffic that resulted from the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Studies now indicate that as the result of that dredging combined with other shoreline modifications upstream as well as erosion etc. the 30 foot depth of the St Clair River has now increased to as much as 75 feet in some places below the bridge from Windsor to Detroit. It was estimated that once dredging was completed, an addtional 845 million gallons of water more would exit Lakes Michigan and Huron daily. Studies now indicate however that as the result of the aforementioned condtions and increased river depth, as much as 2.5 billion gallons of additional water exits these two lakes on a daily basis.
It is estimated that the Great Lakes contain just over 20% of the world's fresh water. Further, only 1% of the water in these lakes is replenishable. The rest is an accumulation of glacial run-off which for all intensive purposes can not be replaced. This winter's heavy snow fall will help to some small degree with this summer's water levels now predicted to be equal that of last year. The longer term solution to this problem is going to depend on the intervention of many levels of government on both sides of the border. It would appear that ample studies have been done and the problem has been indentified. It's now imperative that a remedial plan be implemented to stem the flow of water down the St. Clair River before any more environmental and or economic damage is done that might be irreversible. Letters to both our MP's and MPP's would seem to be warranted. In addition, the Georgian Bay Association would be most appreciative of your support via way of a donation to help support their continued to fight to save this valuable resource that we have taken for granted for far too long.
The Georgian Bay Association's latest newsletter detailing this problem can be accessed by clicking the following link: