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LWVLMR member and activist Jeanette Neagu will be the featured speaker for the Tuesday, April 8, 2014 “Lunch With the League,” hosted by the League of Women Voters of LaPorte County. All are invited to come and hear Jeanette’s talk on Above Ground Chemical Storage Tanks at noon at Lindo’s Restaurant, 3940 Franklin Street, Michigan City, Indiana.
Jeanette has discovered that inspection of chemical storage tanks in Indiana and other Great Lakes states is inconsistent. Tanks that have fallen into disrepair have a higher likelihood of leaking, putting surface water at risk.
No reservations are required. Attendees purchase the lunch of their choice from the menu. Lunch with the League presents timely and relevant discussions about local issues every 2nd Tuesday of the month at Noon. For more information about this event, please call Sue Webster at (219) 874-6809. For more information about the League of Women Voters of LaPorte County, please visit www.lwvlaporte.org.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers accepted public comments on its Great Lakes-Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS) Report through the month of March. LWV Illinois and LWV Michigan each submitted letters supporting hydrologic separation to prevent the transfer of invasive species between the Mississippi River watershed and the Lake Michigan watershed.
USACE analyzed the expected effectiveness of eight different scenarios that might be used to control the spread of aquatic nuisance species. The analysis is based on the 13 species, listed in the chart at right, that are considered the most risky. The two plans that include permanent barriers between the watersheds are the only ones that are effective against all species, according to the government’s analysis.The Leagues’ actions were based on their respective Great Lakes Ecosystem positions.
On March 4 & 5, lake advocates from all eight Great Lakes States traveled to Washington D.C. for Great Lakes Day. This event includes an opportunity to be educated on Great Lakes issues and to meet with each state’s Congressional Delegation to request they support specific programs. This year the League was represented by Amy Little and Jeanette Neagu from Indiana, and Krista Grimm from Illinois.
Jeanette shared this report for Indiana (with thanks to HOW materials):
The event, organized by the Healing Our Waters®-Great Lakes Coalition (HOW), is now nine years old. HOW Campaign Director Todd Ambs welcomed the advocates. Indiana’s eight advocates came from Northwest Indiana and Fort Wayne. Save the Dunes Executive Director, Nicole Barker, was the delegation coordinator. Delegates met with Senator Donnelly and the environmental staff from Senator Coates’ office, as well as Representatives Donnelly and Stuzman and the legislative staff of other Congressmen.
This year the legislative focus was on:
- maintaining Great Lakes funding at $300 million in FY2015. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) has brought about hundreds of real on-the-ground success stories across the Great Lakes Basin. The results have demonstrated how important these funds are to the environmental AND economic health of the region. It is imperative that this work to protect and restore the Great Lakes continues.
- the Great Lakes Ecological and Economic Protection Act, “GLEEPA” (S 1232 & HR 2773). A new, permanent Great Lakes restoration framework is needed. This bill has been introduced by the bipartisan leaders of the House and Senate Great Lakes Task Forces to authorize several critical, existing Great Lakes programs (including GLRI) and strengthen coordination with stakeholders and bi-national cooperation with Canada.
- Waters of the United States Rule Making. Millions of Americans depend on the health of our rivers, lakes, streams, wetlands, and coastal waters for drinking water, recreation, and their livelihoods. The USEPA will very soon release a draft rule to clarify how the Clean Water Act protects those resources.
- next steps to address the serious threat that invasive species, including Asian carp, pose to the Great Lakes. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study released in January 2014 was important to determine the best way to permanently prevent the transfer of invasive species. Now help is needed to ensure that the Corps’ study is followed by meaningful actions to move forward towards separating the basins without delay.
- Clean Water State Revolving Fund. Nearly 20 billion gallons of sewage were discharged into the Great Lakes in 2011, closing beaches, threatening public health and damaging local economies. Communities depend on the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) to implement costly wastewater infrastructure projects and update antiquated water systems. The Clean Water SRF will provide approximately $530 million for the eight Great Lakes states in 2014, and we need that funding to remain at the 2014 level, $1.5 billion, in 2015.
Attendees also enjoyed a panel presentation on partnership-based solutions to improve water quality and enhance conservation. Topics covered included the implementation of the new Farm Bill Regional Conservation Partnership Program, reducing runoff to Green Bay, and the Fox River phosphorus trading program.
All of us who are concerned about invasive species, especially Asian Carp, in Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes have been waiting for years for the release of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study, “GLMRIS” (glim-ris) for short, by the US Army Corps of Engineers. On January 6, 2014, the Corps released their study of how to prevent the transfer of Aquatic Nuisance Species between the watersheds. You may explore the summary, report, numerous appendices, and maps at the GLMRIS Report web page.
UPDATE 2/4/13: The comment period has been extended until March 31 and additional public hearings have been added.
The Corps is holding several meetings to present the report to the public, and hear public comments. League members throughout the Lake Michigan states are attending. Here are some impressions of one of our members from the January 23 meeting in Traverse City, Michigan:
There was a surprisingly large turn-out with a hugely diverse number of organizations represented. First and foremost, both our Senators spoke: Stabinow had just come from Lansing where she had been working with legislators on a strategy to get a project moving; Levin pointed out that there was an inadequate mention of benefits associated with the various suggested plans described in the report. He also asserted that the cost projections were greatly inflated. His suggestion: “Get to work immediately on the short term options while you work to implement the long term solution.”
There was a consensus that the report lacked passion and a sense of urgency–as well as a lack of stressing the commercial and economic value of the Lakes, a necessary point when leveraging Congress for funding. The common thread that appeared in a majority of the public comments was the need for immediate and bold action. Several people said that Obama should issue an executive order that calls for immediate separation.
Everyone wanted the effort to be focused on the connection between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi basins. Most of the speakers agreed that all sectors that stand to lose or benefit must join in funding, planning and executing a certain separation. Wastewater treatment problems along the Chicago shoreline were acknowledged several times as something that should be addressed in whatever action is taken.
During the hour and a half of 3 minute segments of testimony–I left when they were still going strong– good statements came from reps from The Alliance, Freshwater Future, Tip o’ The Mitt, FLOW, several commercial and charter fishing organizations,. A fishing guide said we should treat Asian Carp as though they were terrorists. Someone who has and continues to fish many of the rivers in our area, complained about the inadequacies of the barriers–after his presentation, the Army Corps Colonel gave him with his personal card, urging him to visit his office in Chicago to share lunch AND a visit to one of the barriers.”
Public comments on the GLMRIS will be accepted by the Corps at the remaining meetings or in writing until March 3, according to the website linked above.
Congrats to the Wisconsin League of Women Voters for urging the Wisconsin Department of Resources not to approve the City of Waukesha’s request for a diversion of Lake Michigan water out of the watershed, unless certain conditions were met.
The 2008 Great Lakes Compact protects the water resources of the Great Lakes Basin from diversions and excessive withdrawals. States may consider requests for diversions under strict conditions.
Read the entire LWV of Wisconsin statement here.
The 2013 LWVLM Annual Meeting was held this evening, October 15, 2013, at the Blue Harbor Resort in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. The inaugural Art Palleon Advocacy Award was presented to Mary Lee Orr of the Traverse Area, Michigan League. Mary Lee was honored for her perseverance in achieving concurrence of the Great Lakes Ecosystem Position among the eight Great Lakes state Leagues. The delegation hailed Mary Lee with a well-deserved standing ovation!
The Art Palleon Advocacy Award was created to commemorate Arthur Palleon, longtime LWVLM board member, member of the Ozaukee, Wisconsin League, and dear friend. Art passionately advocated on behalf of Lake Michigan, and we are pleased to honor his memory with the Advocacy Award.