As a Director and Aquatic Ecologist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (now retired), I had the pleasure of working with many people engaged in sustaining and restoring Great Lakes ecology. Managing water levels through bi-national boards is a complex ‘industry’. Historically, Great Lakes water levels have been impinged to support bi-national interests in hydroelectricity and shipping. These priorities have tended to subjugate some other key functions such as the importance of natural annual water levels to coastal habitats that sustain fisheries and wetlands.
As a Lake Ontario shoreline resident, I watch water levels like a hawk given that my basement is at risk of spring flooding. The ‘engineering solutions’ applied over the last century or more (Ogoki and Long-Lac diversions, St. Lawrence Seaway, Moses Saunders and Beautharnois Hydro, Erie and Chicago Canal, Soo locks, Trent Severn and Rideau Canals) have created a false expectancy that water levels should be guaranteed when building homes and businesses close to waterfronts. That is simply wrong for any water system in this part of the northern hemisphere climate zones.
There are basic natural tenets with which ‘engineers’ have been trying to ‘fix’ for a long time at the expense of discounting the importance of inter annual variance to sustain our natural ecosystems.
If people want stable water levels… install a swimming pool. The engineers have tried to do that in our Great Lakes but thankfully nature is still winning.
With thanks for the excellent work that your magazine and your organization do.– Edwin R. DeBruyn, Hamilton