'Do Nothing' Recommendation for Water Loss in Great Lakes Based on Incomplete Science



    Six Billion Gallon extra Per Day Outflow from Michigan and Huron, Study
Board Recommends No Action be Taken
    

    
    PARRY SOUND, Ontario, May 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An environmental
group and leading scientists are disputing the findings of a report
commissioned to understand how changes in the St. Clair River contribute to
the alarming decline of water levels in the upper Great Lakes. The study,
released Friday by The International Upper Great Lakes Study Board (IUGLSB),
found that 6 billion more gallons of water are flowing out of Lakes Michigan
and Huron per day as compared to 1971, but that it is due to "natural causes,"
and that no remedial measures need to be taken.
    

    
    In 2004 Baird & Associates, an internationally respected coastal
consulting engineering firm, found that decades of dredging in the St. Clair
River, shoreline alterations and sand and gravel mining have led to an
increased conveyance that draws more water from Lakes Michigan and Huron into
the lower Lakes and out to the Atlantic Ocean.
    

    
    The GBA Foundation, a Canadian environmental charity, commissioned the
original Baird & Associates report and has been the leading voice in asking
the International Joint Commission (IJC) to address the St. Clair River issue.
The group is calling the Study Board Report premature and its science
incomplete
    

    
    "The changes in the St. Clair River and their effect on water levels have
been cited previously following rigorous and public scientific processes --
the new Study Board was meant to examine physical changes and establish the
best solutions moving forward. The fact that it completely dismisses such an
enormous increase in outflow and recommends that nothing be done about it is
very disturbing," said Roy Schatz, Founding President of the GBA Foundation.
    

    The GBA Foundation's main concerns with the Study include:

    --  The Study finds a 5% increase in the conveyance of the St. Clair
River,
        or 6 billion gallons per day of permanent loss of water from Lakes
        Michigan and Huron, yet recommends no action be taken. The 2004 Baird
        Report, which used only best practices for all scientific work, found
        that the loss is 12 billion gallons per day and increasing -- the
        equivalent of 20,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. These Great Lakes,
        only 1% of which  is replenished by precipitation and runoff, cannot
        sustain this gigantic loss.
    --  Two key studies that will offer a more complete scientific picture
have
        not been made public. These studies, commissioned by IUGLSB but not
        released publicly, include a Baird & Associates verification of how
        much water is flowing out of Lake Huron through the St. Clair River
and
        a study on remediation requirements by Ralph Pentland, the former
        director of water planning and management for Environment Canada.
    --  Studies of the impact of maintenance dredging will not be completed
        until this summer -- after the public consultation process has closed.
    --  IUGLSB has refused to conduct 3-D modeling of the St. Clair River,
        which is agreed upon by many leading scientists and environmental
        groups as the only way to understand the complex flows of such a large
        river.

    --  The study only estimates key data -- their new flow meter reads only
        2/3 of the way across the river, with the study claiming to
        "extrapolate" the rest of the flow measurements -- "estimate" would be
        a better word. The Study Board has admitted that the outflow data have
        been underestimated for the past 22 years. Correction of the flawed
        data is still underway.

    
    "They started with flawed data and they got flawed conclusions," said
Bill Bialkowski, a recently retired engineer and GBA Foundation water levels
committee member who has devoted years of volunteer time and expertise to this
issue. "The Study Board needs to move to a higher level of science in order to
understand this complex river. It appears that sources were carefully screened
to support preconceived conclusions."
    

    
    The current excessive water loss could be catastrophic for Lakes Michigan
and Huron. Once the current cycle of above average precipitation and cooler
temperatures ends and climate change causes long periods of drought and warmer
temperatures, a further 3-4 foot drop in Lake levels would occur. Such a
change would have devastating consequences for ecosystems and economies in the
region. The time to act is now:
    

    --  before predicted climate change impacts lead to another three- or
        four-foot drop in Michigan-Huron levels;
    --  before the Great Lakes' best wetlands are lost forever;
    --  before ships can no longer transit the middle lakes;
    --  before marinas begin seeking millions more of taxpayers' dollars to
        dredge and blast harbours for recreational boats;
    --  before more toxic blue green algal blooms begin occurring;

    --  and before fish habitat and populations are decimated.

    
    "Millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent on this Study to understand
what is causing this huge loss of water through the St. Clair River, but the
Study Board has published a premature Report based on incomplete findings,"
said Mary Muter, Georgian Baykeeper and GBA Foundation board member. "We need
a serious, consensus-based, scientifically sound solution to protect this
important ecological and economic resource."
    

    
    The Study Board will present its final Report to the International Joint
Commission later this fall. The GBA Foundation is calling on the board to
crunch its numbers again, consider all the studies it has commissioned, and
re-evaluate its conclusions before then.
    

    
    The GBA Foundation is a registered Canadian charity created in 1995 to
protect, enhance and restore the natural ecosystem and aquatic environment of
the Georgian Bay area. www.gbafoundation.ca
    



    




For further information:

For further information: Mary Muter, +1-416 489 8101, +1-416-528-4845,
mmuter@sympatico.ca, or Roy Schatz, +1-416-922-4415, royschatz@sympatico.ca,
both of GBA Foundation Web Site: http://www.gbafoundation.ca

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