October 20, 2006
RADM J. E. Crowley, Jr. Commander
Ninth Coast Guard District 1240 East Ninth Street
Cleveland, Ohio 44 199–2060
Dear Admiral Crowley:
The City of Milwaukee is concerned about the U.S. Coast Guard’s proposal to create “safety zones” for the purpose of allowing live gunnery training on Lake Michigan and the other Great Lakes. The City is concerned about the lack of notice provided to Great Lakes’ cities and residents prior to these exercises being conducted earlier this summer. While we strongly support federal anti-terrorism efforts and the work of the U.S. Coast Guard, we take our responsibility for stewardship of Lake Michigan very seriously and are troubled by the potential impact to Great Lakes’ resources resulting from this proposal.
Milwaukee relies on Lake Michigan as our source of drinking water and the lake provides a variety of recreational uses for our residents. We are particularly concerned about the long term human health and environmental effects associated with metals like lead and copper in ammunition discharged to Lake Michigan. To minimize risks to plant, animal and human health, we would request that the Coast Guard explore the feasibility of using lead-free ammunition options. We also request that the Coast Guard work with the appropriate state natural resource agencies to monitor the long term, cumulative effects of these pollutants.
Although we understand that the live fire exercises will occur at least five miles offshore, we remain concerned about the public safety of recreational boaters and commercial vessels. It is imperative that Great Lakes cities are provided ample notice prior to any live fire exercises and that such exercises are conducted in a manner that reduces risks to the public and to the ecological health of the Great Lakes.
Because of the effects this proposal will have on the overall health of the Great Lakes and Milwaukee, I would like to make sure that city residents have an opportunity to gather information about the proposed Coast Guard operation and to ask questions about the environmental and health effects of the proposed live gunnery training. I understand that there are public hearings scheduled in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin and in Waukegan, Illinois. Will there be other opportunities for Milwaukee residents to ask questions about this proposal?
We appreciate the opportunity to comment on this proposal.
Tom Barrett Mayor
cc: Wisconsin Great Lakes City Mayors