Poor little Lake St. Clair. The body
of water some call the sixth Great Lake is the Rodney
Dangerfield of natural attractions in Southwestern Ontario.
Like the put-upon comedian, the lake has had a hard time
getting any respect.
While tens of millions of dollars are being
poured into rescue projects for the five Great Lakes and
the rivers that drain into them or connect them, Lake
St. Clair has been pretty much ignored.
Too bad, because this is a resource worth helping.
At only about 42 kilometres long, 38 kilometres wide and
an average of three metres deep, the lake is a blip compared
to its five Great Lakes cousins.
But size hardly measures importance.
This is one of the best walleye and muskie fisheries in
It yields an astonishing 1.5 million fish of various varieties
a year, a third of the total for the Great Lakes.
The lake is a vital stop for migrating waterfowl.
It provides drinking water for five million people and
floats tens of thousands of recreational boats, whose
owners pump tens of millions of dollars into local economies
on both sides of the border.
Up to 3,000 commercial vessels pass through its waters
Finally, the lake is gaining overdue recognition of its
An impressive collection of agencies on both sides of
the border is developing a management plan for the lake
and the St. Clair River.
While the project is being headed by the U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers and the Great Lakes Commission, a binational
agency, there's plenty of Canadian participation.
Players on the Canadian side include the federal and Ontario
governments and the Walpole Island First Nation.
In the London region, there are the the Upper Thames,
Lower Thames and St. Clair area conservation authorities.
The authorities are involved because the rivers they oversee,
the Thames and the Sydenham, drain into the lake.
Yes, when you pull the plug in a London bath tub, the
water gurgling down the drain ends up in the lake.
There's no question Lake St. Clair's problems are serious.
It's beaches are frequently posted because of E. coli
contamination, its shoreline is rimmed by intensive and
intrusive suburban development, it has been invaded by
alien species including the zebra mussel, its wetlands
and vital shoreline habitat have been destroyed by development,
water pollution from industries, sewage overflows, leaking
septic tanks, fertilizer and pesticide runoff from farms
and lawns have harmed water quality.
Much thought is being given to these problems and technical
working groups will be assembled this fall to work on
the content of a management plan to tackle them.
"We have to decide what we need to do for the lake, what
goals we have to establish," says Matt Doss, project manager
at the Great Lakes Commission.
A draft plan should be completed by early winter and the
document will be reviewed at a state of lake conference
in late winter.
The final plan will follow.
This information is posted
for nonprofit educational purposes, in accordance with U.S.
Code Title 17, Chapter 1,Sec. 107 copyright laws.
For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml.
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for
purposes of your own that go beyond "fair use," you
must obtain permission from the copyright owner.