Georgian Bay Great Lakes Foundation Water Levels Update
Current and predicted levels from US Army Corps of Engineers – for the first time posted in the same scale so the difference in management of lake levels is now obvious.
Very concerning December news posted on Friday by the IJC’s International Lake Superior Board of Control (ILSBC):
“An unanticipated outage due to critical maintenance at one of the hydropower plants is expected to limit the total outflow to 2,140 m3/s (75.6 tcfs) in December. This is 270 m3/s (9.5 tcfs) less than the 2,410 m3/s (85.1 tcfs) prescribed by Lake Superior Regulation Plan 2012.”
This statement shows that the IJC and the ILSBC can reduce (and have reduced) the discharges from Lake Superior to address hydropower concerns. For the past six years, though, to increase hydropower production, both agencies have discharged more than prescribed by that Regulation Plan 2012, all the while ignoring the downstream riparian, ecological and economic harm. But the Regulation Plan prescribes the need to consider both upstream and downstream impacts of the discharges. Those six years of increased discharges from Lake Superior through the St. Marys River to the North Channel have exacerbated the extreme high water levels on Lake Michigan/Huron and Georgian Bay (MH/GB).
Further, the ILSBC December news points out the following facts:
At the beginning of December, Lake Superior is 25 cm (9.8 in) above average (1918 – 2019)…. Lake Michigan-Huron is 80 cm (31.5 in) above average…
Where is there any evidence of the balance required by the Regulation Plan 2012? All decisions seem to benefit Lake Superior and hydropower by holding Lake Superior to a 4-foot range (which was 5 feet in 1900) and allowing Lakes MH/GB to wildly fluctuate within a 6.5-foot range. The ILSBC December news release states that they will increase the discharges over the next months to compensate for this December reduction! But the IJC and ILSBC fail to point out that from December 2019 to March 2020 they intentionally discharged an extra 260 m3s but did not later reduce the discharges to compensate. The IJC and the ILSBC have continuously ignored the very significant MH/GB shoreline flooding damages to roads, infrastructure, homes and flooded wetlands that can no longer provide protected fish spawning and nursery habitat. The economic costs are surely now in the Billions.
These decisions are made without any public input and clearly benefit only hydropower and Lake Superior interests with resulting harmful downstream impacts. We are calling on both Canada and the US to immediately initiate a review of Regulation Plan 2012 and appoint to the ILSBC representatives from shoreline and environment organizations. Restore Our Water International’s letter to that effect is posted on our website HERE