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Great Lakes Article:

Stop the Great Lakes Navigation Study


Posted 09/11/2002
From Great Lakes United


ACTION ALERT :to Canadian, American and Native citizens, environmental, conservation and fishing groups, tourist agencies, natural resource departments, unions, business and Lake dependent industries.

Action links at bottom

The funding for the Army Corps of Engineer’s draft “Reconnaissance Report: Great Lakes Navigation System Review” will be likely determined in the next month. In the United States, Congress will decide whether to appropriate funds in the Water Resources Development Act, which would allow the draft study to move on to the full feasibility stage. In Canada, the federal government will decide whether to be the study co-sponsor and contribute an essential match to the U.S. funds. $20 million is needed by the corps to undertake the feasibility study.

The Great Lakes Navigation System review will determine the feasibility of replumbing the Great Lakes to allow access of Panamax-sized ships into the basin. This means that the lakes' narrow, fragile and biologically productive connecting channels would be widened and channelized into a 35-foot deep navigation system from Montreal to Duluth.

The corps acknowledges that dredging, blasting, constructing wider and deeper locks and channels, and all the other proposed works will seriously impact the lakes through: “introduction of additional aquatic nuisance species,”  “aquatic habitat disruptions (through bow waves, draw down and sure, and propeller wash),”loss of habitat,”  “areas of dead water,” “alterations in flow patterns,” and dredging of “hundreds of millions of cubic yards of material requiring placement.”

For a more detailed synopsis of the draft study, please read Habitat Watch #256.

The draft report predicts that “improvements” to the Great Lakes navigation system will provide annual benefits of $1.4 billions dollars, however, it fails to add up the potential costs to hydropower, riparian owners, sustenance communities, commercial and recreational fishing and the tourist industry that depend on a healthy, diverse, fully functioning ecosystem.  The only costs mentioned in the draft report is a “ballpark” construction figure of $10 billion, just to replace 15 locks at the Welland Canal and St. Lawrence River. That figure will greatly increase as dredging and channelization costs are added to build and maintain a 35-foot channel from Montreal to Duluth. The draft report also does not estimate potential costs from the introduction of new exotic species to the $4 billion Great Lakes commercial and recreational fishing industry, or the cost of controlling exotics, such as the approximately $100 million dollar cost to control zebra mussels annually.

Please be vocal on this issue: In the United States, please let your Senators and Representatives know that you strongly are opposed to Congress funding the Army Corps of Engineers' Great Lakes Navigation System review in the upcoming Water Resources Development Act. In Canada please let your Ministers know that you oppose Canadian funds providing the match for such a study. The proposed corps review has a narrow intent -- catering only to the a few special interests desire to create new commercial navigation access to the Lakes, at the cost of permanent destruction of the Great Lakes environment and Lake dependent economies. The regional capacity to accommodate commercial navigation will never be like the Atlantic Ocean ports, and there is no shame in recognizing the limitations and fragility of the Great Lakes.

Two sample letters, for Canadian and U.S. residents, are linked below. See also the the Great Lakes United 2002 resolution in opposition to this study, passed at our June annual meting.

For any questions, please contact Jennifer Nalbone, Great Lakes United at (716)886-0142 or


Sample letters

U.S. sample citizen letter opposing the study (send as soon as possible)
Canadian sample citizen letter opposing the study (send as soon as possible)
Environmental groups sign-on letters
ENGO letter to the U.S. Congress opposing the study (deadline for group sign-on August 30th)
ENGO letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opposing the study (deadline for group sign-on August 30th)
Great Lakes Untied comment letters
Great Lakes United April 2002 letter to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opposing the study



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