Author Topic: About Georgian Bay Water Levels  (Read 3278 times)

Offline John Whyte

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About Georgian Bay Water Levels
« on: August 11, 2011, 09:58:12 am »
THE GREAT RACE ; The pressure is on to restore the water levels of the middle Great Lakes. As shoreline wetlands dry up, there's more incentive to win ; No quick fix for Georgian Bay's low water levels: co-chair

The Midland Free Press
Thu Aug 11 2011
Page: A1
Section: News

There's no quick fix for the low water levels of Georgian Bay.

Ted Yuzyk, Canadian co-chair of the International Upper Great Lakes Study Board (IUGLSB), said in an interview that it's unrealistic to think that there will be a solution in three to five years. "It's just not going to happen!

"Even if some of the more moderate, interim solutions (such as putting dikes in rivers) were enacted it could take years to do," he noted, citing the potential costs.

"Instead of just looking at how we traditionally regulate the lakes, we could look at some solutions for Georgian Bay wetlands. These very productive wetlands are actually being hurt under this low water regime.

The study board is expected to recommend that efforts be made at the local and provincial levels to create new wetland areas in Georgian Bay.

Yuzyk was interviewed after he and other scientists shared with 150 people at a pubic meeting in Midland last week the study board's thinking and deliberations about the water levels of the Great Lakes.

The IUGLSB is conducting an independent five-year study for the International Joint Commission (IJC). Its mandate is to look at options for regulating future water levels in the upper Great Lakes to support the region's economic and environmental interests.

The IJC is a Canada-U. S. body that oversees the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty.

The study board completed the first phase of its work -a report on the St. Clair River -in 2009 and is currently finalizing a review of the regulation of the Lake Superior outflow.

(Water flows from Superior through the Lake Huron-Michigan system which, hydraulically is treated as one lake, then on down through the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers to Lakes Erie and Ontario and out through the St Lawrence.)

"We will recommend a single regulation plan to the IJC," Yuzyk, told the Midland audience. The study board's report will be presented to the IJC in March, 2012.

The IJC is expected to conduct its own round of public meetings in 2012 before making any recommendations to the Canadian and U.S. governments.

Yuzyk said the original IJC directive called for a review of the existing regulation plan and assessment of the need for changes and improvements to adapt to evolving needs and conditions, including looking at the potential impacts of climate change.

The first phase of the study board's work involved examining whether the St Clair River was continuing to erode and, thereby, increasing its outflow from the Michigan-Huron system. That report recommended doing nothing at the time.

In 2010, the IJC asked the study board to examine what the impacts would be of raising the levels of Lake Michigan-Huron in five stages from 0-10 cm to 50 cm.

The options examined using a series of submerged sills or an inflatable flap gate which, according to a report released in June, could achieve a maximum increase of 25 cm in Georgian Bay water levels.

The analysis showed positive ecological impacts for Georgian Bay wetlands, but negative environmental and ecological results downstream.

Yuzyk explained that one of the factors affecting Georgian Bay water levels is glacial isostatic adjustment; an important - but least understood -phenomenon that has an impact on lake levels.

Essentially, the basin is rebounding -uplifting -after the removal of the glacial ice mass some 10,000 years ago. But the uplift is not uniform, and the basin is tilting like an uplifted plate full of soup.

The net result is that southern part of the U.S. basin is subsiding, while the northern Canadian part is uplifting.

"Over a 50-year period , Duluth will sink an additional 12 cm (5 in), while Parry Sound will rise 12 cm (5 in).

"Even if lake levels were fixed," he said, "Chicago would see higher lake levels, while Georgian Bay would see lower lake levels.

He said the study board recognizes that Lake Superior regulation can only marginally affect Lake Michigan-Huron water levels.

Yuzyk suggested a water quality advisory board would help deal with and manage future uncertainties.

Meantime, he said, you can't just do something at one location without having an impact downstream.

So we are looking at what structures you would need to regulate and balance all of the Great Lakes. Right now we only balance Ontario and Superior. The ones in between are the ones these structures would help to balance.

`We are just doing a conceptual study," he added.

"Once you start the process you will need to go to a whole other level of engineering discussions and an environmental assessment before you can start.

"Then you are still looking at 15 to 20 years. If there are any hiccups you are looking at longer than that."


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Offline Fuzzy Old Worm

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Re: About Georgian Bay Water Levels
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2011, 12:56:17 pm »
Very interesting article. I posted my comment on the LSMB about this. Where my dock was in Victoria Harbour to where the water is now is ridiculous. I use to have one section (12 ft) of dock and could paddle my boat out to start her up. My cousin and I have over the last 3 yrs been filling cribs with rocks and putting out 12 ft lenghts to try and reach the water. Currently we have 7 or 8 sections out and are 3-4 away from the water. We were going to just put down some crushed stone to the water and build from there but with the fluctuation of water from spring to summer and east winds making the water line come in, it didn't seem practical. If/when it does come back, we will have a nice set up but until then, having to launch and park the van and trailer is a pain, especially if I want to get out for an hour or so.
It is very discouraging that it will be years before any real change may be noticed. Being on the west side of Sturgeon Bay (the shallow side) we have been hit the hardest for receeding shoreline. Funny how you are not suppose to change or alter the area which is/was covered with water yet everyone has moved it and has volleyball nets, horseshoe pits etc out on that property. Seeing some of the boat houses that are now sheds 100-130 feet from the water is both comical and tragic. Sorry for the rant but our Bay was a prime fishery, now it is mainly a ponded veggie bowl.

Kevin (formerly-wishn2bfishn) 

Offline John Whyte

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Re: About Georgian Bay Water Levels
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2011, 09:50:45 am »
I sold my cottage at the Moon River about 15 years ago and at the end of my dock there was 4 ft of water. The last time I was up there the dock was out another 100 ft and there is 1.5 ft at the end of the dock. It is certainly sad to see some of the pike spawning habitat drying up.