The Lake Michigan Pollution Case: A Review and Commentary on the Limnological and Other Issues
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The Lake Michigan Pollution Case: A Review and Commentary on the Limnological and Other Issues

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    The judgement order resulting from the 1977 Illinois v. Milwaukee pollution case will, unless reversed in a pending appeal, impose a severe financial burden on the Milwaukee metropolitan community. That burden can be measured. Much less easy to measure will be the benefits accruing to the citizens of Illinois and to the Lake Michigan ecosystem. Because of the landmark stature and wide implications of this case, and because of my longstanding interest in Lake Michigan, I have attempted in this review to follow the lines of evidence and argument that guided Judge Grady to his findings and to speculate (as a legal novice, but with this case in mind) on how legal processes and judicial actions might evolve toward optimum use of experts, thus bringing scientific knowledge and uncertainty more effectively to bear on far-reaching decisions in environmental management and risk regulation. This is in part a report on the limnological evidence, testimony and argument introduced during the trial, and in part a commentary leading to my personal conclusions, which were sometimes based on material (some more recent) that was not presented at the trial. As far as possible, I have attempted to separate reportage and commentary and to let the court record speak for itself. My own conclusions and commentary are specifically labeled as "comments" in Sections 2-6. Section 7 consists almost entirely of quotations from the closing statements of counsel and from Judge Grady's findings, though they have been rearranged to highlight the principal questions debated. Section 8 contains my speculations on procedure. Where appropriate, and because of their interest, illustrations have been taken from the court exhibits, though in some cases the quality of reproduction is not good. These figures are identified as defendants' or plaintiffs' exhibits (DE or PE). Figures not so marked or otherwise designated are original to this review. References are listed in the order of their appearance at the end of text. The Illinois v. Milwaukee case raises many interesting points, and I trust that this review will serve as a guide to some of them. I also hope that it will contribute to an understanding of the Lake Michigan ecosystem and its response to human activities.
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