The long awaited report from the International Joint Commission (IJC) on water levels was released on April 26. In it they recognize the call from many stakeholders, including Georgian Bay cottagers, for action to address the crisis low water levels.
The IJC recommends that the governments of Canada and the United States investigate structural options to restore water levels in Lake Michigan-Huron by 13 to 25 centimeters (about 5 to 10 inches), including a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis and a detailed environmental impact study.
The GBA was quick to respond, releasing the following statement:
“We are pleased that the IJC has recommended that action be taken to address the crisis low water levels in the Middle Great Lakes including Georgian Bay. The return of 10 inches of water to these lakes from the current level this spring would put us into the low end of the historic healthy range, and is therefore a positive first step to maintaining water levels in this range. We look forward to working with our federal government as it considers the IJC advice and decides on which specific actions it will take.”
GBA and its members have worked hard, along with others, to achieve this positive outcome. Our efforts were recognized by Minister Clement at our recent Annual Spring Meeting and in his personal correspondence with us. However, we need to realize that this is merely another step in a long process. The ball is now in the Canadian and US governments’ court. We need to keep pressure on the governments to review the IJC recommendations in a timely fashion and take the necessary steps to follow through. This will require more letter writing, media interviews and press releases. The next issue of GBA’s UPDATE newsletter, coming soon, will contain important information on what each GBA member can do to further engage politicians on both sides of the border on this issue.
GBA will continue to work closely with our elected officials and their staff to help in any way we can so that an effective long-term remedy is put in place to return and maintain water levels in a healthy historic range. To this end GBA has agreed to make a financial contribution to an Economic Impact Study that Georgian Bay Forever will be conducting with the Mowat Centre in Toronto. This Study will identify and assess the cost to the Great Lakes economy created by low water levels. We believe that the Study will be an important tool for our elected officials as they build support for spending federal dollars towards a Great Lakes area-wide project. We have received confirmation from Minister Clement that such an assessment could indeed be helpful.
So thank you to all GBA members who took the time to write letters and attend public meetings. Your efforts have been rewarded.