Exceptional ice in the Great Lakes

Ice and snow help slow evaporation of water on Great Lakes. Ice slows commercial traffic but it also means waters levels will be up.

“A brutally cold winter has covered the Great Lakes with more ice than they have seen since 1979. Special correspondent Elizabeth Bracket of WTTW reports on the struggle to keep shipping lanes open to Chicago’s ice-clogged harbor to Lake Michigan.”

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/coping-with-exceptional-ice-great-lakes/

winner & losers on low water levels

In response to the Another Voice column by Jim Howe of the Nature Conservancy, impact of

Excerpt form Buffalo News article by Dan Barletta.

Another round of discussion on impact of low water levels on Lake Ontario.

”   Further in his essay, Howe cites dollar values that seem to say that this aberrant plan would provide millions of dollars in benefits. What he fails to state is that the low water periods would be devastating to the $94 million-per-year sports fishing industry along the south shore, or that the estimates for property damage along this shore have been shown to be two-to-three times greater than the plan states.

Most private property damage is undervalued and damage to public lands and infrastructure is not even evaluated. Water intakes, sewer systems, roads, bridges, power lines and other sensitive infrastructure might be at risk from drastic man-made level changes on both the high and low side.

An example of the failure of the commission to properly evaluate the potential economic losses is in the Town of Somerset. This town has more than $400 million in public assets that were not included in the damage estimates in the original study by the IJC.

This plan was created behind closed doors with the environmental interests and no other interest allowed in. We commend the elected representatives of the province of Quebec for standing up to the IJC and stating that they would not accept any more damage than what occurs to their part of the system under the current plan. But we are dismayed that New York State representatives would allow this damage to occur to their citizens. The IJC needs to return to the drawing board and come back with a more represented plan.

Dan Barletta is Monroe County director of the Lake Ontario Riparian Alliance. He was a member of the International Joint Commission’s Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Study.”

By Dan Barletta

http://www.buffalonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130806/OPINION/130809561/1074

IJC meeting Niagara County

The International Joint Commission’s 6 commissioners explained and debated new lake management plan at public hearing in Niagara County Fairgrounds. Excerpt from Daily News Online:

“State Sen. George Maziarz saw little difference between the new plan and the IJC’s 2011 offering, which was scrapped before it could be approved by the American and Canadian governments.
‘‘We think the plan is the same as Bv7, which was rejected by every community on the southern and eastern lake shores,’’ Maziarz said. ‘‘This plan will hurt the southern shore of Lake Ontario.’’
Despite the harsh welcome in Lockport, the plan does have a diverse array of support from environmentalists, conservationists, residents and commercial interests. Bryan Smith, the program director of the Buffalo-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said more than 7,000 residents of lakeshore areas have offered petitions and letters in support of implementation.
‘‘We must take action to restore our most important resource — the Great Lakes,’’ Smith said. ‘‘The time is now.’’
The IJC’s report on the new plan cites reduced impacts on lakeside residents and costs related to flooding and shoreline erosion compared to Plan Bv7 while generating 65,000 acres of improved wetland habitats for birds, fish, turtles and mammals.
A video played at the hearing says the range lake levels will have ‘‘more natural’’ variability under the new plan but less severity.”

http://m.thedailynewsonline.com/mobile/news/article_8abae4f0-ed09-11e2-beaa-0019bb2963f4.html

IJC Teleconference on water levels

The International Joint Commission (IJC) invites you to participate in a teleconference briefing on Thursday, June 13 regarding public hearings on a proposal for regulating the water levels and flows of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. IJC staff will make a presentation and be available to answer questions.
When:  June 13, 2013, at 2:00 pm
How to participate:
Teleconference number: 1-877-413-4781
Participant code: 736 879 4
Webinar login information:
1. Go to https://pwgsc-nh.webex.com/pwgsc-nh/j.php?ED=207417192&UID=0&PW=NYWJkNGQxMGRk&RT=MiMxMQ%3D%3D
2. Enter your name and email address.
3. Enter the meeting password: IJC
4. Click “Join Now”.
To update this meeting to your calendar program (for example Microsoft Outlook), click here.
WebEx will automatically setup Meeting Manager for Windows the first time you join a meeting. To save time, you can setup prior to the meeting by clicking here.
Contacts:
Frank Bevacqua, Public Affairs Adviser, Washington D.C. – 202-736-9024, bevacquaf@washington.ijc.org
Bernard Beckhoff, Public Affairs Adviser, Ottawa ON – 613-947-1420, beckhoffb@ottawa.ijc.org

Mayors look to premier on lower water levels solution

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.”

http://www.cottagecountrynow.ca/iphone/news/article/1622990–mayors-look-to-premier-pm-to-lead

Lower water levels boon for boat ramps

I am reposting Doug Leier’s reporting on low water levels in North Dakota rivers and lakes. Devil’s Lake Basin will have above moisture and in process of becoming ice free. Levels in northeast will be up two feet for season. Posting:

“Even though Lake Sakakawea and Lake Oahe are approximately 10 feet lower than last year at this time, anglers shouldn’t have a problem finding public access points to launch a boat.

Bob Frohlich, North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries development supervisor, said most of the main recreation areas will have a usable boat ramp and provide ample boating access. “Some of the main concrete ramps are out of the water, so anglers will have to use low-water ramps in those areas,” Frohlich said. “While these low-water ramps will certainly be sufficient to get boaters on and off the water, anglers may notice that some may not be as wide or quite as nice as the primary ramps and may be located some distance from the other amenities in the area.”

Many low-water ramps were installed through cooperative efforts during the previous drought, Frohlich said, and are now becoming usable once again as the water level approaches those same elevations.

At Lake Sakakawea, where fisheries biologists expect a banner open-water fishing season, all but two of the 34 recreation sites will have a usable ramp. Only Littlefield Bay and West Totten Trail will be unusable.

All 12 boat ramps will be usable on the Missouri River stretch from Garrison Dam to MacLean Bottoms. “These ramps are usually more reliable as they are not dependent on a lake elevation,” Frohlich said. “The biggest problem with these river ramps is the 2 foot degradation in the river bed that occurred during the 2011 flood, so there’s now 2 feet less water on each ramp with the same exact releases from the dam as there was pre-flood.”

Seven of eight recreation areas will have operational ramps on Lake Oahe from Hazelton to the South Dakota state line. Only the Fort Yates ramp will be unusable. Although fishing may not be as good as last year on Lake Oahe, biologists expect anglers will have good success, albeit smaller fish.

Anglers in the northeast portion of the state are just starting to pull boats out of storage as Devils Lake and many other water bodies are just becoming ice-free. Frohlich said the Devils Lake Basin had above average moisture and is expected to be up 2 feet this summer. “All nine boat ramps are in exceptional shape and will be fully functional,” he added.”

A complete status report of Missouri River and Devils Lake boat ramps is on the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov.

 

http://dougleier.areavoices.com/2013/05/21/missouri-river-and-devils-lake-access/

What bubbles in the Antarctic can tell us

This excerpt from the New York Times reports on CO2 emissions from historical perspective and societies efforts to curb emissions in our atmosphere the last few decades. Expect recent (a relative term) severe weather patterns of drought, flooding, fluctuations of water levels (large and small bodies of water) to persist and increase in intensity.

“From studying air bubbles trapped in Antarctic ice, scientists know that going back 800,000 years, the carbon dioxide level oscillated in a tight band, from about 180 parts per million in the depths of ice ages to about 280 during the warm periods between. The evidence shows that global temperatures and CO2 levels are tightly linked.

For the entire period of human civilization, roughly 8,000 years, the carbon dioxide level was relatively stable near that upper bound. But the burning of fossil fuels has caused a 41 percent increase in the heat-trapping gas since the Industrial Revolution, a mere geological instant, and scientists say the climate is beginning to react, though they expect far larger changes in the future.”

Read on about CO2 emissions in the atmosphere exceeding 400 at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/11/science/earth/carbon-dioxide-level-passes-long-feared-milestone.html#http://json8.nytimes.com/pages/science/earth/index.jsonp