Citizens of Lake Baikal, Russia and the Waukegan Harbor Citizens’ Advisory Group
by Hall Healy—member of Port Waukegan, IL Citizens Advisory Group
The Great Lakes of the U.S. and Lake Baikal (near Irkutsk, Siberia, Russia) together represent about 40% of the world’s fresh water. Industrial and other forms of pollution threaten all these vital bodies of water. Baikal is the world’s oldest (25 million years), largest, and deepest (1,637 m) fresh water lake. In comparison, the Great Lakes of the United States are only 10,000 years old. Lake Baikal contains more than 2,500 endemic species of plants and animals, including the world’s only species of seal that lives solely in fresh water, the nerpa.
Since 1990, the Waukegan Harbor Citizens’ Advisory Group (CAG) of the Port of Waukegan, Illinois has worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Waukegan Port District, and numerous local, state, and federal stakeholders to dredge the contaminated sediments from the harbor, and to clean up the four Superfund sites and numerous brownfields within the watershed of the Waukegan River.
Dr. Elena Kuzevanova, a Ph.D. in hydrobiology and director of the Baikal Ecological Network, heard of the CAG’s activities and progress from a colleague. She then wanted to learn more about the processes involved in setting standards and achieving cleanup goals. The Baikal Ecological Network invited a CAG delegate to visit Lake Baikal in mid December to overview their needs, and to bring along a wide range of IJC, Great Lakes, and Waukegan Harbor background material. Based on this visit, Dr. Kuzevanova shared her strong desire to immediately visit actual sites, stakeholders, corporations, scientists, educators, and others involved in point and non-point pollution remediation efforts around the Lake Michigan basin.
Through a number of generous donations, arrangements were made for Dr. Kuzevanova to spend three weeks in February and March visiting selected sites in Michigan, Indiana, and the Chicagoland region. She was especially interested in visits that could demonstrate the underlying processes and educational tools used by the citizens of the Lake Michigan watershed to effect an eventual cleanup of the lake and its many tributaries.
As a result of Dr. Kusevanova’s visit, a partnership has been established between the Waukegan Harbor CAG and the Baikal Ecological Network. This partnership will exchange information on successful processes for effecting and maintaining clean water resources, and will establish and sustain methods for developing and sharing educational materials, programs, and technologies. Further questions may be addressed to:
Jean B. (Susie) Schreiber, Chair
Waukegan Harbor Citizens’ Advisory Group