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Old 03-10-2012, 16:58   #1
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Great Lakes Water Levels

I received the following email regarding the water levels of the Great Lakes which might be of interest to boaters in that region.

---------------------------------------

Dear friends of Georgian Bay,
A recent report by the International Joint Commission (IJC) recently announced a recommendation that the water level of Lake Huron/Georgian Bay be allowed to decline by another 1½ metres without government intervention (for our American friends, that's 5 feet!).
Why do we care? Because the Great Lakes were formed by glacial melt in the last Ice Age, and man has intervened. We have created global warming and we dredged the St. Clair River to permit super tanker ships to reach the upper Great Lakes. In fact, the channel was over-dredged and exposed a soft layer of terrain which washed away further increasing the flow of water leaving the upper Great Lakes. The flow of water leaving the lakes has been dramatically accelerated! If allowed to continue, the lake levels will continue to drop.
There is a solution: stone baffles could be installed at the bottom of the St. Clair to return the depth of the St Clair River to that which was intended for freighter traffic. The dollars required to do his are quite manageable and are much less than the cost of allowing the situation to continue.
Please take a short moment to sign a new petition which implores the IJC to do something about the problem. (See link below). If you care about the ecological and economic devastation that will result from further drops in the water level, send an e-mail to the IJC, ( link below), and please pass on the links to everyone you know.
Thanks for caring about the Bay

Read more about it and sign it here:
Save the upper Great Lakes water levels, especially Lake Huron and Georgian Bay
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Old 03-10-2012, 17:20   #2
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Re: Great Lakes Water Levels

We lost 10 inches of water level in our marina in only tow weeks. The dredging of the St. Claire is claimed to not be the problem - by those who did it. The facts are that the total flow out is many times greater than before the dredging. ANYTHING that would maintain the upper lakes to their historic levels would be better than the curren t mess. We are on the hard early because of the real possibility we could not get out if we waited another month. Our marina is so low that some boats had drifted below their finger piers and stanchions are being broken. We nearly lost ours.

It would make more sense to add locks at the St Claire than to ruin the upper lakes environment. What do yo supplse the cost of dredging every harbor and marina is compared to fixing what the Corps did?
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Old 03-10-2012, 17:39   #3
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Re: Great Lakes Water Levels

I only draw 4 foot and water is getting shallow at my slip. Getting to be a long way down from the dock to deck. A five foot more drop would put me on solid ground.
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Old 03-10-2012, 18:03   #4
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Re: Great Lakes Water Levels

WHAT EVER the solution is....get it done!!! Damn it, I hate it when we interfere with nature and cause this type of damage to our lakes.
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Old 04-10-2012, 04:49   #5
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Re: Great Lakes Water Levels

Just a question on this. If the upper lakes are draining quicker and the lower lakes haven't changed their drainage patterns (at least not to my knowledge), why aren't the levels in the lower lakes increasing?

Lake Erie is a shallow lake to begin with and has lost another 2' over last year's loss.

The sailboats in our marinas in the Port Stanley area have been coming out for three weeks now simply because they can't get out.

The river in Port Burwell is nothing more than a trickle with sandbars everywhere.
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Old 04-10-2012, 05:12   #6
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Re: Great Lakes Water Levels

So where did the water go?
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Old 04-10-2012, 05:15   #7
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Re: Great Lakes Water Levels

That would seem to be the million dollar question.
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Old 04-10-2012, 05:19   #8
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Re: Great Lakes Water Levels

The outflows from two of the five Great Lakes (Lake Superior and Lake Ontario) are regulated by control structures. These outflows are varied in accordance with their respective regulation plans.

The outflows from Lakes Michigan-Huron and Erie are not regulated, but rather, are controlled exclusively by the hydraulic characteristics of their outlet rivers.

USACE - Detroit District - Current Regulated Outflows

“... the perennial challenge of managing the Great Lakes is that it’s largely a zero-sum game: more water for the vast middle lakes of Michigan and Huron means less for Superior, Erie or Ontario ...
Why the Lakes are slowly getting less Great - The Globe and Mail

From August 17, 2012:
“ The water level of Lake Superior is near the same level as one year ago, while Lake Michigan-Huron is 10 inches lower than its level of a year ago. Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are 11, 12, and 10 inches, respectively, lower than their levels of a year ago. Over the next month, Lake Superior is forecasted to remain near its current level, while Lake Michigan-Huron is expected to fall 1 inch. The water levels of Lakes St. Clair, Erie and Ontario are forecasted to fall 7, 5, and 3 inches, respectively, over the next thirty days.”
Current Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Water Levels
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Old 05-10-2012, 16:56   #9
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Re: Great Lakes Water Levels

Quote:
Originally Posted by GordMay View Post
The outflows from two of the five Great Lakes (Lake Superior and Lake Ontario) are regulated by control structures. These outflows are varied in accordance with their respective regulation plans.

The outflows from Lakes Michigan-Huron and Erie are not regulated, but rather, are controlled exclusively by the hydraulic characteristics of their outlet rivers.

USACE - Detroit District - Current Regulated Outflows

“... the perennial challenge of managing the Great Lakes is that it’s largely a zero-sum game: more water for the vast middle lakes of Michigan and Huron means less for Superior, Erie or Ontario ...
Why the Lakes are slowly getting less Great - The Globe and Mail

From August 17, 2012:
“ The water level of Lake Superior is near the same level as one year ago, while Lake Michigan-Huron is 10 inches lower than its level of a year ago. Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are 11, 12, and 10 inches, respectively, lower than their levels of a year ago. Over the next month, Lake Superior is forecasted to remain near its current level, while Lake Michigan-Huron is expected to fall 1 inch. The water levels of Lakes St. Clair, Erie and Ontario are forecasted to fall 7, 5, and 3 inches, respectively, over the next thirty days.”
Current Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Water Levels
We are down way more than 10 inches. The marina is about 30 below last season. It is easily seen on the sheet piling walls. THere are about 18 inches of exposed, dry zebra muscles on the walls of the boat well. (Muskegon Michigan.)
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Old 05-10-2012, 18:23   #10
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Re: Great Lakes Water Levels

I have just returned from touring by road USA & Canada. Had a day or two on Lake Superior. Travelling west along the northern side of Superior we asked ourselves many times "how much beauty can one take in". I did send an email asking what my friends did on one day because I went fishing for Bass & Pike & caught all the boat needed in a few hours, saw a Bald Eagle, an Osprey & a Black bear then 80 miles of Islands & country that was worth the long trip & roast pot was Moose that night with the fish the next night. The drop in the water was explained & yes if it helps I will add my name to your list.

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Old 06-10-2012, 01:27   #11
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Re: Great Lakes Water Levels

8 years back, in late May, we bounced a Monk 42 trawler along the channel bottom getting into the Port Severn lock.
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Old 06-10-2012, 06:43   #12
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Re: Great Lakes Water Levels

Well I signed for this one and there is another one for the lower lakes (specifically for Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence) called BV7. It might be worth a look as well.

Save the River - Water Levels Petition

It scares me when we have to ask the government for help since they are usually the ones that caused the problem in the first place.

EDIT: I take that back. I keep forgetting that we ARE the government and we allow these things to happen by not being involved.
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Old 06-10-2012, 08:01   #13
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Re: Great Lakes Water Levels

From my reading of the research, the most significant cause of lower water in the Great Lakes is related to diminished ice cover during winter, and the ongoing continental drought pattern we've been experiencing. The principle cause of this appears to be global climate change.

Ice cover limits evaporation during 1/2 the year. These days, not even Lake Superior freezes completely over in the winter, leaving open water during the winter months. This allows for significantly higher levels of evaporation on an annual basis.

The research I've read on the St. Claire dredging suggests that while there is some contribution to lowering Huron and Michigan, it remains a small effect compared to evaporation and diminished water inputs (rain and snow).
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Old 06-10-2012, 08:16   #14
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Re: Great Lakes Water Levels

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Originally Posted by bgallinger View Post
So where did the water go?
There is just not as much snow in winter as it used to be. Less rain in the spring except some years where it rains so much that lakes overflow like Champlain and areas that never experienced flooding were affected. So in my opinion any attempt to "fix" the problem is a waste of energy and moneys since we are in an unstable period and any action good for last year's problem will create next year's new challenge...
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Old 06-10-2012, 20:35   #15
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Re: Great Lakes Water Levels

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
From my reading of the research, the most significant cause of lower water in the Great Lakes is related to diminished ice cover during winter, and the ongoing continental drought pattern we've been experiencing. The principle cause of this appears to be global climate change.

Ice cover limits evaporation during 1/2 the year. These days, not even Lake Superior freezes completely over in the winter, leaving open water during the winter months. This allows for significantly higher levels of evaporation on an annual basis.

The research I've read on the St. Claire dredging suggests that while there is some contribution to lowering Huron and Michigan, it remains a small effect compared to evaporation and diminished water inputs (rain and snow).
Don't forget the corp of engineers dredging of the St Claire river into soft sediment. This one opened up the outflow to several times its normal flow so that large ships could pass. As has been noted, all of the lakes are low but Michigan and Huron are particularly low - go figure!!!!
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