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Lake Michigan Diversion Committee

Chairman W.H. Espey, Ph.D., Mr. C. Melching, Ph.D., and Mr. Dean Meads, the Fifth Lake Michigan Diversion Committee, presented preliminary findings on October 16, 2003, in Chicago, Illinois, to representatives of the States of Illinois, Michigan, and New York, the City of Chicago, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the Chicago and Rock Island Districts, the United States Geological Survey, the Illinois District and Canada.

The Fifth Technical Committee was appointed by the USACE in December of 2002 to conduct an assessment and evaluation of the accounting procedures and methodology used in the determination of diversion from Lake Michigan and to ascertain whether or not the methods were in accordance with the “best current engineering practice and scientific knowledge,” as stipulated by the 1967 Supreme Court decree and its 1980 modifications. The review also included: 1) an evaluation of alternative accounting methods (Romeoville versus Lakefront) and 2) an evaluation of approaches that might be used to quantify consumptive use.

In general, the Committee’s findings can be summarized as follows:

  1. Based on preliminary review, the Lake Michigan Diversion Accounting is in compliance with the Modified Supreme Court Decree of 1980 with respect to the “best current engineering practices and scientific knowledge.”
  2. The acoustical flow measurement technology utilized in the Lake Michigan Diversion accounting has met the standard of “best current engineering practice and scientific knowledge.” This acoustical flow measurement technology has substantially contributed to the advancement of this measurement technology.
  3. The Committee believes that the consumptive use in the water/wastewater system could be significantly higher than the 8 to 12 percent range.
  4. Leakage at the lakefront controlling works has been substantially reduced because of repairs to the lock and turning basin.
  5. Hydrologic/Hydraulic models are state of the art and are generally applied in a proper manner; however, a more thorough evaluation of model performance may be in order at this time.

The Fifth Technical Committee draft report will be submitted to USACE, Chicago District, in early 2004. 

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