Down the Drain: Georgian Baykeeper battles to save the Middle Lakes

Mary Muter
Waterkeeper Magazine
Winter 2009. 5(3), 32-36


Lake Huron is slowly but surely going down the drain. Anyone who visits Georgian Bay, the giant basin extending northeast from the lake, can see this. Over the past few years, as much as 90 percent of the wetlands that border the thousands of granite islands on the bay’s north and east coasts have dried up. If they remain dry long enough to turn into grassy meadows, the damage will become practically irreversible. Even if the lakes’ water levels were restored to their long-term average—and that’s a big IF—it would take a decade for wetland plants to re-establish themselves to the extent that aquatic life could return. It’s an open question whether northern pike, musky and bass will ever again spawn along these shores. The International Joint Commission long ago set a minimum standard for Lakes Michigan and Huron: when their surface subsides to 176 meters above sea level, it’s a low-water crisis. They are in crisis conditions now, and have been since 2000. Now, thanks largely to the hard work and persistence of the Georgian Baykeeper program, con- sensus has been established that there is excessive outflow from Huron into the St. Clair River; and a draft report issued by the IJC for public comment in January may finally spur remedial measures to save the lakes.

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