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Great Lakes Article:

Editorial: Stop dragging feet
The Sarnia Observer - Osprey Media
Published June 8, 2007


It's time for Ottawa to stop dragging its feet on the St. Clair River monitoring issue.

Jim Hasson, director of research and policy for WATCH, a respected Wallaceburg-area environmental group, told Lambton County council this week that the U.S. is spending $2.8 million to install 10 monitors along the shores of the river and Lake St. Clair.

In contrast, he said, there's not much happening on the Canadian side of the border.

That's despite a report on spills in the Great Lakes basin last August from the International Joint Commission that stated government monitoring is necessary in both countries.

The sad fact is that the only monitors operating on the Ontario side of the international waterway are owned by big industries in Chemical Valley at their intake and outflow sites. There's also a monitor at Courtright that's owned by the Sarnia-Lambton Environmental Association, which is funded by local industry.

Frankly, that's not good enough.

Perhaps we don't need 10 federal government monitors, but we could use at least a few. A number of downriver residents get their drinking water out of the river, including the people of Wallaceburg and Walpole Island. It's scandalous that there aren't at least a handful of government monitors on our side of the river. Much of the industrial pollution in the St. Clair, after all, has traditionally come from Canadian sources.

County council took the bull by the horns Wednesday, passing a motion calling on Ottawa and Queen's Park to match the monitoring network being established by the Americans.

In addition to keeping an eye on the health of the river, the monitors could have an unexpected benefit. They will undoubtedly show pollution in the St. Clair is not as bad as many people think. That, in turn, could help improve the image of not only the Chemical Valley, but Sarnia-Lambton as a whole.

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