Live: 2012 Sag. Bay Watershed Conf., "We need to keep fighting the good fight on invasive species"
The wellness of the Great Lakes is not just an issue that impacts Michigan Residents.
BY: Lindsay Knake, Mlive.com/Saginaw News
KOCHVILLE TOWNSHIP — The wellness of the Great Lakes is not just an issue that impacts Michigan Residents. The quality of these bodies of water has been addressed by both the U.S. and Canada for four decades.
Cameron Davis, Sr. advisor to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator, said in his keynote address at the 2012 Saginaw Bay Watershed Conference that this spring, the federal government is planning to update the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, a document originally signed in 1972 by Canada and the U.S.
The objective of the agreement was to establish goals and policies to maintain the biological, chemical and physical integrity of the Great Lakes.Updates to the document are expected to include new language on the effects of nutrients in the Great Lakes, pollutants, and invasive species.
"We do need to move faster towards extirpating invasives," Davis said. "One of the stories that haunts me is that biologists knew that zebra mussels were coming to the Great Lakes before they did ... once invasive species are in, it is very difficult to unravel them."
Davis said that the best strategy for addressing invasives is foresight.
"New policies will serve as a telescope to look at where future risks are — which organisms are coming to the Great Lakes, what risk level they are and what pathways (they are using)," Davis said. "We need that telescope to see and prevent what is coming."
In addition to combatting invasive species, new policies in the agreement are expected to assist the two countries with dealing with climate cange.
President Barack Obama has proposed $350 million in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Funding for fiscal year 2013.
Davis said that this is a great sign, and a testament to the research that continues to be accomplished.
"The bay is not going to be restored overnight," Davis said. It is so important to understand we can do everything we can possibly do, but then it's up to the ecosystem — it's up to the patient to recover while we do all the surgery and treatments that we can."
Leaders and experts in environmental conservation are meeting today to discuss water quality restoration of the Saginaw Bay Watershed.
The 2012 Saginaw Bay Watershed Conference is being held at Saginaw Valley State University's Curtiss Hall, 7400 Bay. More than 20 speakers are scheduled to present on progress of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.