A second draft of an international water agreement deals with the diversion of water from the Great Lakes basin. (Photo courtesy of Indiana DNR)
The second draft of the Annex 2001 Implementing Agreements
has been released. The document will ultimately dictate how water from the Great Lakes will be used. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Christina Shockley reports:
The second draft of the annex 2001 implementing agreements has been
released. The document will ultimately dictate how water from the Great
Lakes will be used. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Christina Shockley
More than ten thousand public comments were received after the first draft
was released, many of them about conservation and diversion of water
outside the Great Lakes basin.
As a result, this version strengthens water conservation measures for new
and existing users. It also bans diversion to communities outside the
basin except in limited circumstances.
Sam Speck is chair of the water management working group. The group in
charge of drafting the Annex. He says the measure is far from complete.
“Really none of the governors or premiers have said, ‘We think this is the perfect
document that we would like to have put before us to sign in its final form
today.’ It’s a work in progress.”
Speck says lots of compromise has had to occur to get this far in the
process. He says the effort is breaking new ground, as nothing like the
Annex 2001 has been written before.
For the GLRC, I’m Christina
HOST TAG: The public can now review this second draft until August 29th. It will
then go back to the Great Lakes governors and Canadian premiers.
Ontario is trying to fight air pollution, but is calling for action on the U.S. side to help. (Photo by John Hornak)
A government study released by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment confirms what Canadian officials have long suspected that the majority of Ontario’s air pollution comes from U.S. sources. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Sarah Cwiek reports:
A government study released by the Ontario Ministry of the
Environment confirms what Canadian officials have long suspected:
that the majority of Ontario’s air pollution comes from U.S. sources.
The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Sarah Cwiek reports:
The study found that more than half of Ontario’s air
pollution originates in the U.S. The study’s authors say air
pollution flows across the border in both directions, but the
predominant flow is from the U.S. into Canada.
Chamberlain is spokesperson for the Ontario Environment
Ministry. He says southern Ontario feels the greatest impact.
“There’s a fairly wide regional impact. Obviously, it’s a
greater issue particularly in the Windsor area because it’s
closer to Detroit. In Toronto, being a larger city, probably
only about half of the pollution that we would have on a bad
pollution day would be transboundary pollution.”
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty recently hosted a conference
in Toronto promoting transnational efforts to improve Great
Lakes air quality.
McGuinty says the province is currently
taking aggressive steps to combat air pollution, but stresses
action on the U.S. side is vital as well.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Sarah Cwiek.
The Great Lakes is the largest group of freshwater lakes in the world. Preservation and usage of the Lakes is a hot issue for 2005. (Photo courtesy of michigan.gov)
This coming year will likely see some major policy decisions regarding the Great Lakes. Because the lakes stretch out along eight states in the U.S. and two provinces in Canada, getting all the governments to agree on issues is a long and sometimes trying process. But… those involved think 2005 will be the year that some real progress on Great Lakes issues will be made. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham recently talked with the Chair of the U.S. Section of the International Joint Commission, Dennis Schornack. The IJC deals with disputes and advises the U.S. and Canadian governments on issues regarding the Great Lakes:
This coming year likely will see some major policy decisions regarding the Great Lakes. Because the Lakes stretch out along eight states in the U.S. and two provinces in Canada, getting all the governments to agree on issues is a long and sometimes trying process. But those involved think 2005 will be the year that some real progress on Great Lakes issues will be made. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham recently talked with the chair of the U.S. Section of the International Joint Commission, Dennis Schornack. The IJC deals with disputes and advises the U.S. and Canadian governments on issues regarding the Great Lakes:
The International Joint Commission and the Government Accountability Office both have been critical of the U.S. government for not finding clear leadership on Great Lakes issues. Different agencies sometimes find their efforts overlap or conflict with others. At times, it seems there’s no organized effort to restore the health of the Great Lakes. Dennis Schornack says he thinks things were starting to get better because recently appointed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Mike Leavitt took a real interest in the Great Lakes. But now Leavitt is leaving to become the new Health and Human Services chief.
“It’s going to be hard to beat the enthusiasm of Mike Leavitt. He spent literally about fifty percent of his time as EPA Administrator in the Great Lakes throughout. He was everywhere this past summer. But it does fall to the new administrator, whomever he or she may be; but in the meantime, the governors and mayors are proceeding forward on the priorities that they set over a year ago, and fleshing those out into very tight kinds of recommendations.”
Countless studies and reports on the Great Lakes point out one of the biggest threats to the lakes is invasive species. Those are foreign critters such as zebra mussels and round gobies that hitchhike in the ballast water of cargo ships, or are introduced unintentionally. Often the invasives damage the native fish, plants, and ecosystems of the Great Lakes. Nothing has been done to effectively stop importing the invasives, and some have gone so far as to suggest that the St. Lawrence Seaway connecting the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean should be closed. The IJC’s Dennis Schornack says he’s hopeful that we’ll soon see laws that will do more to help prevent invasive species from getting into the Lakes.
“In the United States, at least, there is pending legislation that has been pending for over two years now called the National Aquatic Invasive Species Act. This legislation is overdue. It’s time for Congress to act on it. And in the ’05 legislative Congressional year, it’s time for them to act. And that’s the place where the standards get set, the authority gets established and where all of the rubber really hits the road. Now, that’s just in the United States. Bi-nationally, because the Great Lakes are a shared resource, the IJC, that I’m the chair of the U.S. section, has continued to advocate cooperation and collaboration between the two countries in terms of at least setting a common standard, a common rule, common regulation on the Great Lakes. Because, obviously, setting it on one side of the boundary line doesn’t do any good if the other side doesn’t follow.”
Another issue that’s recieved a lot of attention in the Great Lakes region recently is water diversion. A document called Annex 2001 tackles the issue of how much water can be used or withdrawn from the Lakes. The various state governors and province premiers put together draft agreements for public comment. Schornack says there’s been a huge response, and a lot of it hasn’t been positive.
“They recieved, I think, over ten-thousand public comments. And there is differing viewpoint, a growing difference between the view taken in Canada and the view taken in the United States on this effort. Canada, the province of Ontario, has come out and point-blank opposed the existing documents. There are concerns in Canada that this is just some kind of a ruse to somehow allow diversions of the Great Lakes waters to occur. I’m not part of that viewpoint, to tell you the truth. What’s being done right now and what will happen in 2005 is that the comments are being digested, we’ll see new draft documents come out from the governors and premiers and hopefully begin the process making those agreements stick.”
Schornack says 2005 will also see some important reports on the economic costs of invasive species. Studies on the logistics of shipping, cargo ship traffic and alternative freight haulers and design plans that look at the total cost of shipping – including the infrastructure costs and the environmental damage caused by invasive species. It should be an interesting year for the Great Lake if Congress moves on key issues, and then finds money to make the Great Lakes more sound.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.
Groups like the Pembina Institute worry about water sustainability as the Great Lakes receive little new water and government officials both in Canada and in the U.S. discuss Annex 2001. (photo by Jenn Borton)
Canadian environmental groups are concerned that a new plan to regulate water withdrawals from the Great Lakes basin would allow too much water to be removed. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Karen Kelly reports:
A Toronto researcher says most communities are underestimating a potential source
of cheap electricity – raw sewage. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Karen Kelly reports:
University of Toronto professor David Bagley collected waste water at a North
Toronto water treatment plant. He took the sewage into his lab, dried it and
then burned the solids to see how much energy they produced. He estimates the
energy produced from sewage at three treatment plants could produce more than
100 megawatts of electricity. That could be enough to keep a small town going
for a year. But Bagley says few take advantage of this resource.
“Our measurements show that there’s enough energy that we should be able to
completely offset the electricity needed to run the plant, and have extra
left over the send back to to the grid.”
Bagley finds communities are reluctant to invest in the equipment they’d
need to convert sewage into power. But he’s hoping to to design a cheaper
and more efficient system so more people can get the most out of their sewage.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Karen Kelly.