EDITORIAL: Get back to work on a new
pact for the Great Lakes
The Muskegon Chronicle
Published November 21, 2006
Time has run out on a 34-year-old pact that supposedly
safeguards the Great Lakes, some are saying. Three-decades-plus
is a long time for any agreement, especially one so important
to the well-being of the millions who depend on the world's
largest freshwater supply on earth.
Since the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1972
was signed, there have been changes both for the good
and for the worse in lakes water quality. Such obvious
disasters as the pollutant-soaked Cuyahoga River near
Cleveland have been abated, as have other danger sites
around the Great Lakes Basin.
As the years have gone by, local pollution issues have
been dwarfed by threats of a far larger nature. Imported
exotic species, deposited into the lakes through ballast
water from ocean-going ships, have turned the table on
native fish and other lake life forms. Mercury from smokestack
pollution carries over the lakes from places known and
Newer issues, such as water diversion from bottling companies,
have opened up new cans of legal worms. The rise of "factory
farms" generating immense amounts of animal waste runoff
into the lakes is a growing pollution source. There is also
the issue of global warming, which may be a contributor
to the steady decline in lake water levels, and a big factor
in rising lake water temperatures.
The call for a new water quality pact comes from the
International Joint Commission, made up of representatives
from Canada and the United States, which advises both
nations about the lakes. A recent IJC report stated the
1972 agreement had long run its course and lacked the
tools governments need to meet emerging threats to Great
Before the governor's race was settled in Michigan, we
pointed to a need by the winner to tackle Great Lakes
issues as a starting point that could win bipartisan backing.
The area we suggested was closing a loophole in current
law regulating certain issues pertaining to water diversion.
It appears as if the task -- and challenges -- facing
Gov. Jennifer Granholm, the new Legislature, and other
Great Lakes governments will be vastly larger in scope.
What's a tree without lights?
If you haven't seen it up close, the new 50-foot-tall
"Community Christmas Tree" in Hackley Park is
a vast improvement over the old one, even in its better
But when the tree was cut down more than a month ago,
its old lights went with it. Now that the new tree --
a donated by Laketon Township residents Jim and Ann Timme
-- is in place, it's going to need a lot of lights.
Led by Muskegon's forester, Larry DeCou, a crew of city
workers worked hard to get the tree cut down and transported
downtown one week ago. Several pieces of city equipment
were used in the process, but the biggest part of the
job was done at no charge by Curtis Andrews of Andy's
Tree Service in Egelston Township.
Now, in the hope of starting a new tradition of erecting
and lighting a large donated tree each holiday season
without going too far out on a limb, money-wise, and to
help make this a truly community event, the city is reaching
out to others for help.
DeCou says the city would like to see financial donations
of about $500 to purchase enough lights to augment the
screw-in-bulb style of lights the city already has on
hand, and also is looking for someone willing to donate
time and equipment to string the lights on the tree --
and/or take them and/or the tree back down again after
the holidays. The lights could be reused year after year,
and, would become a part of the annual Christmas in Hackley
Park lighting ceremony.
Muskegon's downtown holiday lighting has depended on
donations of money, lights, ornaments and equipment in
the past, especially since the downtown mall closed. Such
donations have brightened what would have been dismal
Christmas seasons in the slowly emerging "new"
Interested? DeCou can be contacted at 724-6783.