“Keep Working,” Crowd Tells Great Lakes Commission

An overflow crowd of 120 people told members of the International Joint Commission to expand the scope of its Great Lakes Study to include mechanisms to manage lake levels at a hearing last night in Sturgeon Bay.

Every person who spoke urged the commission to look at measures to control the water levels of the Upper Great Lakes. Ideas ranged from lock and damn systems in the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers, hydro-electric turbines in the rivers, inflatable bladder systems, and filling in some dredged areas of the rivers.

Frank Forkert of Liberty Grove asked the commission to compare the cost of remedial measures verses the adverse economic impact of low water levels, plus the hundred of millions of dollars spent on dredging of public and private channels when water is low.

The commission was at Crossroads at Big Creek to gather public comments about the completed study investigating the impact that 1962 dredging of the St. Clair River had on Upper Great Lakes Water Levels (Lakes Michigan, Huron, and Superior). The study concluded that ongoing erosion in the river is not responsible for the drop in water levels, though pre-1962 dredging was responsible for at least a 16-inch drop in lake levels.

The commissioners explained that the study commission was not charged with investigating remedial measures for impacts before 1962, and was very receptive of the citizen’s comments. They will hold five more public hearings to gather more information before making a recommendation to the U.S. and Canadian governments about further studies.