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|$500,000 for Great Lakes study|
|Written by Parry Sound Northstar|
|Wednesday, 13 September 2006 16:15|
Georgian Bay was the backdrop for the federal government’s funding announcement of the International Joint Commission (IJC) Upper Great Lakes study Friday morning.
The five-year study will look at regulation of Lake Superior water flows and why the water levels are down in Lake Huron. The study will look at impacts of low water levels on such things as the ecosystem, tourism and hydro-power and is being funded by both the U.S. and Canada.
Of the total $17.5 million bill, both countries pledged $500,000 for this budget year.
“This study is designed to provide better insight into the impacts on water levels which have been so much a concern to communities around us and property owners along the Georgian Bay for so many years now,” said Minister of Health and Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Tony Clement.
Mr. Clement and Minister of the Environment Rona Ambrose made the announcement on the Charles W. Stockey Centre’ patio before touring the area by boat. Started in 1909, the IJC is an independent bi-national group working to prevent and resolve water and environmental disputes between Canada and the United States.
The study comes on the heels of Georgian Bay Association’s (GBA) report pointing to dredging and mining of the St. Clair River, located at the south end of Lake Huron, as the cause of erosion to the base of the river affecting water levels.
The Georgian Bay Association is comprised of 20 cottagers’ associations, including West Carling, as well as corporate and individual members. One of its functions is to act as a lobbying group on issues relating to Georgian Bay, including water levels.
“This report has raised many important questions and indeed has been the start of a very important database on what we can all agree is a very complex issue,” Mr. Clement said of the GBA’s study.
Dredging of the St. Clair is expected to be at the top of the list for the study to consider, said Ms Ambrose.
GBA vice-president Mary Muter was in the audience Friday morning and said the organization was pleased with the funding announcement and the start of the study.
“We will continue to lose water from Lake Huron (so) the sooner they act on litigation the better,” she said.
Parry Sound Mayor Ted Knight, a director of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Mayor Cities Initiative, also attended the event.
“I think it is was fantastic in that it shows resolve from the federal government that the water levels in the middle Great Lakes, which include Georgian Bay, does need to be looked at,” said Mr. Knight. “This will enable the IJC to move forward and improve water flow on Lake Huron and Michigan.”
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