Forty million people a day (maybe you?) drink from them. They're a full fifth of the planet's fresh water. Yet in places --- consider Charlotte Beach --- the Great Lakes are often not even safe to swim in.
Now there's yet another plan afoot to restore them. A year ago, then-EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt was in town to announce, from the deck of a Rochester research vessel, a $20 billion strategic plan to improve the Great Lakes. Based on the timing (and George Bush's abysmal environmental record), cynics might easily have dismissed the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration as an election-year pork promise to a swath of swing states. But a year has come and gone, and the project is still with us. In fact, earlier this summer the collaboration released a draft report.
The issues in the report are based on the work of 1,500 people on eight task forces. They range from invasive species to wastewater treatment, from the state of plant and animal habitat to sustainable development. The result: 37 separate recommendations, ranging from federal legislation to clamp down on ballast waters to coordinating the flow of information and research.
Though the 52-page report is dwarfed by its 542 pages of appendices, it represents not so much a scientific study as a collective set of ears to the ground, gathering local concerns and then trying to make sense of the feedback.
The last of six public hearings around the Great Lakes was held last week at the University of Buffalo. Rochester's Hugh Mitchell spoke, representing the state Sierra Club. For the most part, Mitchell's concerns lined up with what the draft report stated as its priorities. But there was one glaring difference: mercury.
Plans to reduce the presence of the heavy (and heavily toxic) metal in the lakes "are unacceptably weak," according to Mitchell's testimony, "in that they mirror the administration's Clear Skies program." The Sierra Club wants sharper and faster reductions, specifically from coal-fired power plants like RG&E's Russell Station --- 90 percent by 2011.
Skeptical about whether the issues important to you are being discussed? There's still time to participate, though just barely. First check out the report (it's at www.glrc.us/). Then use the online form to add your two cents or snail-mail your insights (by Friday, September 9) to: COMMENTS Great Lakes Regional Collaboration; c/o U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Great Lakes National Program Office; 77 West Jackson Boulevard; Chicago, Illinois 60604.
The current archives at BOA Editions, Ltd., Rochester's poetry publishing house, will be moving to the University of Rochester campus.
The University's Rare Books and Special Collections Library finalized the purchase of the 1996 to 2005 archives --- which include manuscripts, some annotated, galleys, cover art, photographs, and sales catalogues from the American Poets Continuum, the A. Poulin, Jr. New Poets of America Series, the New American Translation Series, the BOA Pamphlets Series, and the American Reader Series --- this month. BOA's early archives, 1976 to 1995, are housed at Yale University.
BOA's books and poets are decorated with awards, including a Pulitzer, and its publications routinely draw acclaim from literary circles. The archive will be available for research at the UR Library.
They're taking the show on the road: Geva Theatre Center will produce a musical from its 2003-2004 season off-Broadway.
The regional theater company created Five Course Love Company LLC --- with capital raised almost entirely from Rochester investors --- to take the show to The Minetta Lane Theatre in New York City beginning October 1. Five Course Love, written and composed by Gregg Coffin, debuted at Geva in June 2004 and finished its run to sold-out crowds. The show then went to Sacramento. The original cast (of three, each plays several characters in the five-scene comedy) and director (Emma Griffin) will go with the show to the big city.