Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Where Did All The Water Go?

  Although I do not own waterfront property in the Collingwood area I do have a cottage on Manitoulin Island just off Lake Huron which is one-in-the-same body of water. In the late 1980's the water level was such that is was up into the trees in the accompanying photo.  Since then it has done nothing but recede. Admittedly is was even lower in the mid 1960's.
  As a waterfront property owner and REALTOR® engaged in selling waterfront properties, I am keenly interested and have closely followed the steadily declining water levels in Georgian Bay and Lake Huron over the past several years. Further, I have attended many of the meetings held by the International Joint Commission (IJC) pertaining to their study of water levels in the Upper Great Lakes including the most recent one in Collingwood on July 17th. Their latest study focused primarily on the regulation of water flow from Lake Superior into Lakes Michigan, Huron and of course Georgian Bay. The initial regulation plan governing the outflow of water from Lake Superior was first established in 1921 and the most recent study was to ascertain what changes might be implemented to this regulation that would boost water levels in the aforementioned downstream lakes.
  Lakes Michigan and Huron are the only two of the five Great Lakes where there is no control of the outflow of water downstream into Lakes Erie and Ontario. Water from these two Upper Great Lakes runs unabated down the St. Clair River. Following dredging that was done in the 1960’s as part of the St. Lawrence Seaway project and further erosion of the river bed since then, studies have indicated that the volume of water flowing out of Lake Huron and Michigan is much greater than prior to the dredging or as earlier calculated by engineers involved with the project.
  I am no expert but common sense would suggest to me that revising the regulation plan to potentially allow more water to exit Lake Superior will have little impact on water levels in Lakes Michigan and Huron given there is no control of water exiting these two lakes at the other end. To me it’s like pouring more water into a pail that has a whole in the bottom. I am sure that anyone concerned with the declining water levels in the Upper Great Lakes acknowledges that recent mild winters, hot dry summers such as the one we are having and climate change in general are playing some role in the diminished water levels. That perhaps would suggest there is all the more reason why a control mechanism must be installed on the St. Clair River to permit the regulation of water flowing out as well as in. If it was important to have a regulation plan in place back in 1921 governing the flow of water coming in from Lake Superior then I would suggest we are 91 years behind in implementing the same type of control plan at the other end.
  The recent meetings both here in Collingwood and at Little Current on Manitoulin Island in mid-July were politely vociferous affairs. Those in attendance were insistent that the IJC must make a recommendation(s) to the various levels of governments to implement corrective action(s) whatever they may be, to increase the water levels in Lakes Michigan and Huron. While I am in favour of both Canada and the U.S. in being good global citizens with respect to assisting less fortunate nations, charity as they say begins at home. Let’s take some of the millions of dollars earmarked to be spent elsewhere and invest it in maintaining what is undoubtedly one of our most important natural assets, the fresh water found in our “Great” Lakes.

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Rick relocated to Collingwood from Toronto in 1985 through a transfer with Goodyear Canada. In 1987 Rick was recruited by a major client of Goodyear’s, managing their Canadian business based in Barrie before moving to Chicago in 1992 as Vice President of Sales & Marketing. Upon returning to Canada in 1996, Rick ran an industrial products manufacturing company in Stratford, Ontario. In 1998 Rick returned to Collingwood with his two children. Rick is a licensed real estate Broker with Royal LePAGE Locations North in Collingwood and holds his MVA designation (Market Value Appraiser-Residential). He is an active volunteer in the community serving several years on the Board of Directors with the Collingwood Chamber of Commerce as Treasurer, 6 years on the Board of Directors for the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® of which he is the Past President (2008) and currently serves on a committee with the Ontario Real Estate Association. Rick is a diverse executive manager with extensive experience in strategic planning, manufacturing, finance, human resources and quality assurance management.