We want to make you aware of the IJC’s latest progress report plus two articles that have been published about this report. Both the report and the articles point out that despite much effort by governments and others on both sides of the border, the Great Lakes continue to be under stress and water quality is deteriorating. Here is the IJC report – click here. Here is the Associated Press’s article written by John Flesher commenting on the IJC report – click here. We also have an article by Susan Bence with NPR’s WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio – click here.
GBA’s ED stepping down
GBA’s Executive Director, Bob Duncanson has advised the Board that he will be stepping down effective the Spring Annual General Meeting.
The AGM will mark Bob’s 10th anniversary in the ED position. During this time he has played a pivotal role, helping to guide the GBA and its member associations as together they tackled a vast array of issues impacting the Bay. When describing the organization to outsiders, Bob is often heard to say that the GBA, because of its credibility and the respect in which it is held has been able to “punch well above its weight” when dealing with government and non-government stakeholders alike. That this is the case is due in large part to Bob’s skills and efforts over the years, not to mention his own passion for the Bay.
A Search Committee has been formed, chaired by Past President John McMullen. The Committee will not be advertising within the media but will rely on the GBA’s extended “family” and network to publicize the opportunity to interested parties. The objective is to have a replacement selected in time to introduce at the Spring AGM, customarily the end of March, beginning of April. Bob has made it clear that he is prepared to remain involved for a transitional period in order that the passing of the baton be as smooth as possible. This commitment reflects Bob’s vested interest in GBA and is much appreciated.
The Executive Director Job description may be obtained from John McMullen at firstname.lastname@example.org or by clicking here. Letters of interest with CVs will be accepted until January 15th and again are to be directed to John McMullen.
The Government of Canada invests in Great Lakes Protection Initiative
December 1, 2017 – Toronto, Ontario
Canada is committed to providing strong support to working collaboratively with the Government of Ontario and Indigenous Peoples for the protection and restoration of the Great Lakes.
Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, announced that the Government of Canada will invest $44.84 million for the Great Lakes Protection Initiative, which is part of the $70.5 million of new funding allocated for freshwater protection, in Budget 2017.
This investment will tackle issues that matter to the lives of Canadians—from cleaner drinking water, to beaches we can enjoy, to waters in which we can fish and swim.
The Great Lakes region represents the third-largest economy in the world, if measured as a country. It supplies 51 million jobs or nearly 30 percent of the combined American and Canadian workforce. Building on a solid foundation of existing Great Lakes programming, this investment will further focus efforts on issues of greatest importance to Canadians, including the continued implementation of the Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement as well as the Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health. Healthier Great Lakes mean more opportunities for economic growth.
New programming will focus on reducing toxic and nuisance algae and strengthening the resilience of Great Lakes coastal wetlands. It will prioritize identifying at risk nearshore waters, which are those most used by Canadians for drinking and recreation. It will target reducing the release of harmful chemicals. And, it will seek to strengthen engagement with Indigenous Peoples and the public in addressing Great Lakes issues.
Reaffirming the strong Canada-Ontario partnership in the protection of the Great Lakes, Minister McKenna was joined at today’s announcement by the Parliamentary Assistant to Ontario’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Arthur Potts.
The Minister also convened a round table, moderated by the Council of the Great Lakes Region, to continue ongoing dialogue on the future of the protection of the Great Lakes. Participants included representatives of Indigenous groups, the province of Ontario, municipalities, industry, and environmental non-government organizations.
DETROIT – A wide-ranging Great Lakes cleanup program would receive $300 million next year under a spending bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee. For more information, click here
by Robert Moos, Lands and Forests Committee
Lead is a known to be a serious environmental contaminant. The on-going situation in Flint, Michigan, where the water supply was contaminated by lead, demonstrates how serious a problem it can be. Yet, many of us inadvertently may be harming our Georgian Bay wildlife with lead. How? By using lead fishing tackle, such as sinkers. Continue Reading →
Asian Carp continue to be a clear and present threat to the Great Lakes as they try to migrate up the Mississippi River system from the southern United States. The US Army Corps of Engineers have built three electric fences in the Chicago diversion canal which is the most likely pathway that Asian Carp could use to enter Lake Michigan. These barriers emit low level electricity into the water that has been sufficient to stop the advance of these invasive fish. Targeted poison that biodegrades has also been used in the canal and adjoining river to knock back populations of these fish particularly when the fences have had to be turned off for maintenance. Another vector for possible infiltration of Asian Carp into the Great Lakes are during unusual rain events which leads to some of the Mississippi tributaries to overflow their banks and possibly spill into small streams that could ultimately flow into one of the Great Lakes. With the amount of rain we have experienced this year it is likely that some river overflow has occurred. The third and last possible way for Carp to get into the Great Lakes is through people inadvertently releasing them either as released bait fish or as mature adults. There was a time not long ago that companies were importing live Asian Carp from the US into Canada to sell in fish markets. There is a demand for such live fish by some Asian customers. The Ontario government banned the practice of importing live fish two years ago.
As it stands right now invasive Grass Carp have been found in small numbers in Lakes Ontario and Erie. MNRF has been working with their US counterparts to DNA sample these fish to determine where exactly they came from and to determine if they have been able to successfully breed. The most recent and more alarming find has been a Silver Carp on the Great Lakes side of the electric barriers 14 Kilometers from Lake Michigan. Toronto Star article June 23rd, 2017 .
Over the past 6 years GBA has written to both our Federal and Provincial governments expressing our concern about Asian Carp. We have made deputations to the International Joint Commission and signed onto several petitions that have been circulated by fellow Non-Government Organizations. Most recently we have added our voice to others who were lobbying US elected officials to not support the White House’s call for a $290 million US cut to Great Lakes funding. Part of that money supports the work of the US Army Corps of Engineers in thwarting the advance of Asian Carp, and field research into the few escapes that seem to have made it into the Lakes, or at least past the electric barriers. The White House backed down on their cuts for 2017 but are advocating for cuts to the Great Lakes budget in 2018 and beyond.
A research report by Anna Martin regarding the potential pollution from the large past munitions manufacturing plants at Nobel, near Parry Sound, particularly during WWI & WWII, and the possible adverse health effects on the local population has been posted at: www.gumptioninc.org/parrysoundproject
In addition to the report there is a short video from Anna on this website and other background information.
This research raises serious questions, such as:
- What happened to the disposal of the munitions in Georgian Bay near Nobel and Depot Harbour?
- What did the water testing reveal at the old water treatment facility in McDougall?
- What is CIL currently monitoring, and what have they found to date?
- Does McDougall know these results and why haven’t they brought these issues forward to the public?
- Is there existing contamination on nearby residential properties that has migrated from CIL or DIL? and finally
- Is this contamination causing cancer, infertility and other chronic illnesses in the area?
GBA is working with a local group that is being put together to take over the work of Anna Martin and take it in a new direction. The current strategy is to take a cooperative, rather than confrontational approach, with the various parties that can answer the questions raised by the research report, such as McDougall Township, the relevant Federal & Ontario government departments, CIL & affiliates, and CIL’s successors/current land owners. We hope that this strategy will result in a concerted effort to check thoroughly for contaminants and remediate the area without too much delay.
Charting Canada’s troubled waters: Where the danger lies for watersheds across the country – Globe and Mail, June 17, 2017
From the Globe and Mail here is a comprehensive review of Canada’s freshwater ecosystems reveals rising threats from pollution, overuse, invasive species and climate change among other problems. Yet, the biggest threat of all may be a lack of information that hinders effective regulation, Ivan Semeniuk reports. Link to article.