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Colin Dobell keeps up his campaign to keep water levels top-of-mind for politicians

Water-level Warrior

By Whitney Neilson, Special to The Enterprise-Bulletin

Whitney Neilson/Collingwood Enterprise-Bulletin
Stop the Drop founder Colin Dobell spoke to the Collingwood Rotary Club on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013.

Whitney Neilson/Collingwood Enterprise-Bulletin Stop the Drop founder Colin Dobell spoke to the Collingwood Rotary Club on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013.

COLLINGWOOD — Ontario Members of Parliament and local mayors can expect a lot more emails soon if the Stop the Drop campaign has anything to do with it.

Colin Dobell, founder of Stop the Drop, announced at the Collingwood Rotary Club meeting on Tuesday that everyone who signed the petition showing their concern for dropping water levels in Lake Huron will receive an email this week about how to contact their municipal, provincial, and federal representatives.

“When they click a single button in our email it populates the entire email with the MP at home, the MP where they access the lake, their MPP at home, the MPP where they access the lake, and the mayor where they access the lake,” said Dobell. “It’s designed to have thousands of these darn things going out.”

After Christmas the website will include tools so members can see how many other members are in their riding, and come together as a group to talk to their MPs.

“Climate change is real,” said Dobell. “It’s not going away. What happened in 2012 was not supposed to happen for 10 to 15 years.”

He said by including lake users, regardless of where they call home, the scope extends from five MPs to potentially dozens and dozens of MPs and MPPs.

“A number of our members live in Victoria, BC,” said Dobell. “Some of our members live in Montreal or New Brunswick. So you’re going to have MPs getting emails going ‘what the hell’s going on? What is this problem?’ That’s how you get people paying attention.”

He said over the past two decades Lake Huron has seen a 70% decrease in ice cover. At one time most of Huron would be covered in ice, but not anymore. That means there are five more months of the year of warmer water and cold air blowing over the lake with a lot of wind, increasing the rate of evaporation.

“There is a problem with this lake,” said Dobell. “Many people like to think that this rain is just putting it behind us. But there’s water missing in this lake and that’s something we have to face.”

The International Joint Commission released a report in April recommending Canada and the U.S. look at options to restore water levels by 13 to 25 centimetres in Lake Michigan-Huron. It also says water levels are abnormally low because of human actions around the lake.

The commission’s recommendations aren’t binding but are usually accepted by Canadian and U.S. governments.

Dobell said the Canadian government hasn’t addressed the report yet, and hopes these emails will get politicians talking about the lake again.

“20,800 emails will go out to every one of our members and they will have a very simple exhortation to each individual saying if you care about this problem you probably ought to let your MP go that you’re waiting on the government to answer the ICJ report that said you should do the following things.”

When people registered online to sign the petition, they indicated where they live and where they accessed the lake. This data was assembled to gain more understanding of the usership and broaden the reach of the campaign.

“A person who lives in Toronto can call up their MP, say ‘you represent me. What are you going to do to solve my problem because I own a cottage, or I own a house, or I something in Georgian Bay’,” said Dobell.

Dobell said he spent the past six weeks going to all the municipalities, MPs, and MPPs around the bay to let them know this isn’t a problem for one group, but a broad issue. He said he will take the existing Georgian Bay community from 20,000 to 30,000 people, extend to the entire Canadian shore of Lake Huron, and deepen people’s engagement over the next year.

The St. Clair River, which runs out of Lake Huron, has been dredged several times over the last century to let large commercial ships through, further decreasing water levels by increasing flow. In January, Lake Huron hit its lowest level since water levels started being recorded in 1918.

“All we’re saying is it happened once, it can happen again,” said Dobell. “It will happen again and we owe it to ourselves to plan and prepare for by pushing the government.”


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