Excerpt on IJC USA Canadian response to solve lower water levels. Huge economic hit to local, regional economies:
Twenty-four of 44 Georgian Bay municipalities weighed in for the casebook. They reported water levels are affecting 68 marinas and 76 other businesses, as well as 31 government facilities, including municipal water systems, coast guard stations and the MS Chi-Cheemaun ferry.
It is estimated cottagers will spend $500 million to extend and repair docks and water systems, and the negative impact on local economies is pegged between $50 million to $100 million.
“It’s great to have this long-term discussion, but we need to do something for 2013. We have our summer season upon us,” said Midland Mayor Gord McKay.
The mayors want a streamlining of the system required to get permits for dredging, blasting, dock repairs and other quick fixes, and they want $20 million – half each from the federal and provincial governments – to help cover the cost of the work.
Penetanguishene Mayor Gerry Marshall said municipal officials have met with both the NDP and Progressive Conservative caucuses, but have had less luck with the ruling Liberals.
“During the recent Liberal leadership campaign, I brought this issue directly to the attention of many of the leadership contenders, including Premier Kathleen Wynne herself and (Finance) Minister Charles Sousa and Minister of Infrastructure Glen Murray,” he said.
It’s imperative that Wynne spearheads an economic relief program, said Marshall, adding the premier then needs to engage with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama to find a solution.
“The leaders have to lead on this issue,” he said, estimating up to 700 jobs are at stake across the region.
“If we closed a factory that was losing 700 jobs, politicians would be lined up for photos handing out cheques, but, because the jobs are spread across the Georgian Bay shoreline, they are being ignored,” the mayor said.
Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson said he agrees the province must come up with funds for this “emergency.”
“The provincial government is going to have to step up to the plate or we’re going to have a miserable economic condition all along the shoreline,” Wilson said. “We have immediate problems.”
MP Bruce Stanton encourages his constituents of Simcoe North to Petition the IJC for solutions to Low water levels of Georgian Bay. The IJC is the ‘center for action’ on the solution for this issue. Mary Muter of the Sierra Club of Ontario remarked at the Oakwood Community Centre that ‘the IJC has had $17 million and seven years to come up with a solution’. IJC recommendation to do nothing is not popular among these folks. The US Army Corps of Engineers solution for low water levels for Georgian Bay was conceived 50 years ago. According to Muter, water flows would be slowed by installing underwater sills and repairing erosion damage. As reported by Sarvus, the project costs today would range from $100 to $200 million over 10 years with start up of $3 to $5 million.
Excerpt from Midland Free Press report by Gisele Winton Sarvus on public meeting and solutions to low water levels:
Muter and Scott Warnock [Tay Township Mayor] expressed their dismay with the IJC at last summer’s meeting in Midland that was attended by about 600 people with their ears open for solutions. “They provided no viable options for water level restoration. “It means do nothing and get used to it, folks,” said Muter. An excerpt from local paper A member of the audience asked if the water levels will continue to decline if nothing is done. Muter said that’s exactly what will happen because there are no water regulation systems on Georgian Bay and Lake Huron as there is on Lake Ontario, which has remained relatively stable. Lakes Simcoe and Couchiching drain into Georgian Bay and the five Great Lakes drain, eventually, into the Atlantic Ocean. All five Great Lakes are at lower levels than normal, but lakes Huron and Michigan have lost more water than the others. Human manipulation of the St. Clair River that drains Lake Huron into Lake Erie is one of the areas that is a major cause of the lowering of Lake Huron water, said Muter, and it’s the area where remedial work should start. “The reality is that it is possible to restore water levels,” she said. The St. Clair River has become a drain from Lake Huron because of a century of human intervention that includes mining, repeated dredging, removal of wetlands and creating a steel wall on the U.S. side that causes water to flow faster and causes more erosion that results in an even deeper channel.