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Great Lakes Article:

Online forum to focus on Great Lakes issues
By John C. Kuehner
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Published November 23, 2005


If you want to tell the U.S. and Canadian governments what their priorities should be for the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway, now is the time to speak up. All you need is a computer.

The International Joint Commission, created nearly a century ago to help resolve boundary water issues between the United States and Canada, will hold a public Web dialogue Nov. 29 through Dec. 2.

This will open the discussion to a range of issues and put people from Duluth, Minn., to Montreal in contact with each other.

People must register for discussion. They can participate day or night any of the four days. Each day has a different agenda topic that will have panelists available to answer questions throughout the day.

Unlike a chat room, where you drop a comment and hope someone will respond, here they will, said Frank Bevacqua, a commission spokesman.

Elaine Marsh, who heads Friends of the Crooked River, a grass-roots group devoted to protecting the Cuyahoga River, plans to participate.

"I am deeply in this, and in the response of the community as well," she said.

The IJC is seeking comments on priorities to restore water quality and how to update the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, which outlines the commitments of how the United States and Canada will protect the waters. The agreement was last amended in 1987.

This fall, the IJC held 14 meetings across the Great Lakes to get public comment. Many comments that the group received at those meetings showed public interest in broadening the scope of the agreement to include such issues as invasive species, global climate change and mercury pollution from coal-burning power plants, Bevacqua said.

To register, review the daily agenda or look at various background documents, go to www.webdialogues.net/ijc/greatlakes.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:

jkuehner@plaind.com, 216-999-5325

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