Two Great Lakes hit lowest water levels in history

Low water levels

According to recent reports, two of the Great Lakes have officially hit their lowest water levels ever recorded.

Measurements taken in January showed Lake Huron and Lake Michigan at their lowest since 1918, when the record keeping began. In January, the lakes were 74 centimetres below their overall average, a decline of 43 centimetres since January 2012.

While not at their lowest, the other Great Lakes—Superior, Erie, and Ontario—were also well below average.

While scientists say lake levels are cyclical, meaning they’re mostly controlled by nature, a number of studies have shown dredging—done to deepen the navigational channel in the St. Clair River—to be a major issue in the accelerated flow of water from Lake Huron and Lake Michigan toward Lake Erie and Ontario, and into the Atlantic Ocean.

According to reports, the U.S. Army corps may consider a long-debated proposal to place structures in a river, which would reduce the amount of water that flows out of the two most-affected lakes.

“There are serious impacts to navigation and shoreline property owners from this extreme event. It’s time to revisit this,” Keith Kompoltiwicz, watershed hydrology chief for the corps district office in Detroit, told The Globe.  

Groups representing property owners along these lakes’ shorelines, such as the Georgian Bay Association (GBA), are also working to restore these water levels to a healthy, historic range, so that property owners don’t have to deal with the ramifications. The GBA has, and will continue to work with local, provincial and federal governments to help ensure the necessary blasting and dredging can be done in time to provide spring and summer access, but maintain sensitivity to the environment.