We have a chance to affect Lakes for the better

The Great Lakes represent a great heritage for our nation and are being put at risk by politicians that are failing to act. Great La
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

 

The Great Lakes represent a great heritage for our nation and are being put at risk by politicians that are failing to act. Great Lakes Issues have reached a tipping point and must be dealt with promptly to avoid a potential catastrophe. Great Lakes Aquatic Invasive Species Issues are of concern to the whole United States. The fact is that many of the issues facing the Great Lakes are crucial to our entire nation and cannot be ignored. We must consider the economic, environmental, social and ecosystem issues. When looking at the high impact items as to the deterioration of the Great Lakes it is hard to isolate one from another. We must look at current and historic pollution from industrial, agricultural, and municipal/regional sewage treatment facilities. All need attention, will be very expensive and take a great deal of time to get under control. The aquatic invasive species are easily identifiable and create huge negative economic impacts to the Great Lakes Region and beyond.

The historic pollution may or may not be of current critical status depending on it location, but must be carefully monitored to avoid problems with extremely serious implications. The quantities of heavy metals, dioxins, PCBs, and other extremely toxic or carcinogenic materials buried in the bottoms of the lakes, harbors, rivers, and streams would boggle the mind of any concerned citizen.

We do have a few opportunities to provide immediate positive impact on helping the Great Lakes and at the same time helping to protect other waters of our nation from impending dangers. Ballast Water release from ocean-going freighters has been the vector that had brought us most notably the zebra and quagga mussels, orange ruffe, round goby, tube-nose goby, and sea lamprey are the most significant problems, but a new species is introduced every eight months. The Asian carp is another species moving towards the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River system. The Illinois River Carp Barrier funding is an important issue on this species. It is estimated Great Lakes Aquatic Invasive Species cost in excess of five billion dollars per year to deal with. This may be only the tip of the iceberg, as the species spread throughout the waters of the United States and further their impact. Every river, stream, lake, and reservoir is potential habitat for these species to increase their grip on our nation's waters.

The Great Lakes provide the drinking water to more than 83 million people nationally including over 3 million Ohioans. Lake Erie's 312 miles of shoreline and related waters support more than a quarter of a million jobs relating to $5.8 billion in wages per year and over $9.45 billion in tourism and travel revenue to Ohio's economy. Ohio's fishermen contribute over 900 million dollars annually to it economy. Translated simply, we cannot afford to ignore the Great Lakes. For Ohioans, we must push our legislators and governmental leaders to move quickly.

The issues are important to us as a state, but the battle is best waged in Washington, where nationally the issues can be worked into comprehensive legislation to first deal with the Ballast Water and the related Aquatic Invasive Species. The Great Lakes Collaboration Implementation Act of 2007 is very important. It is a critical part of a comprehensive plan to protect and restore the Great Lakes. Washington needs to understand how vital all of the lakes and especially Lake Erie are to you. Contact your friends in other non-Great Lakes States and let them know how important the issues are to them also.

Great Lakes Collaboration Implementation Act of 2007

Senate Bill 791

Introduced March 7, 2007 by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.

Nine co-sponsors including Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio

Referred March 7, 2007 to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, of which Voinovich is a member.

House Resolution 1350

Introduced March 6, 2007 by U.S. Rep. Vernon Ehlers, R-Mich.

Bill has 47 cosponsors including Ohio Democrats Dennis Kucinich, Timothy Ryan, Betty Sutton, Stephanie Tubbs Jones and Marcy Kaptur; and Ohio Republicans Stephen LaTourette and Ralph Regula

Referred March 21 to the House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Oceans.

-- Source: govtrack.us