Great Lakes water levels improve, but still too lowWater levels in the western Great Lakes are back up a bit, but the debate continues over how and whether to seek additional gains.
By: Chuck Quirmbach, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Water levels in the western Great Lakes are back up a bit, but the debate continues over how and whether to seek additional gains.
Early this year, Lake Superior's water level was well down, and the connected lakes, Michigan and Huron, hit record lows. Superior is now close to average for this time of year, and the others are up some, but still below average.
At the Great Lakes Commission meeting in Milwaukee Monday, Scudder Mackey, of the Ohio office of coastal management, said climate change may bring more variability to lake levels, but generally long-term lows. “Low water impacts on Lake Michigan [and] Huron may remain if we continue to have increased evaporation and decreased precipitation, irrespective if we've put in a 5-10” compensatory structures in the upper St. Clair River.”
The St. Clair River near Detroit remains a point of contention, as some say too much water is emptying southbound out of Lake Huron and adding to the problems in Huron and Michigan.
Roger Gauthier is with Restore Our Water International, a U.S/Canadian group of shoreline property owners and businesses. He says changes should be installed in the St. Clair river to retain water. He also wants more dredging in the 140 Great Lakes harbor mouths, so bigger vessels can use shallower harbors. “Michigan came up with $20 million, which was a very significant endeavor to start that process, but a number of coastal communities are highly affected by not being on the priority list.”
Gauthier says some of the structural changes near Detroit could happen within 5 to 7 years, with a price tag of around $300 million, though he agrees climate change could be the main influence on what happens to lake levels.
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