Low and Behold: Great Lakes Water Levels

Low water levels leave a crib dock high and dry on the Lake Huron shoreline of the Bruce Peninsula, Ontario.

Somehow you don’t want to argue with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Among their many projects is testing Great Lakes water levels, a job they’ve been doing for around a century. Their inarguable verdict is that Lake Huron is historically down. Measured next to benchmark data, the level so far in 2013 is below the previously record-low set in 1964. The Detroit District’s report sums it up: “The level of Michigan-Huron was 18 inches below chart datum. These water levels are expected to drop further below datum before the opening of the navigation season, resulting in continued hardships for the navigation stakeholders on the Great Lakes.”

There’s no shortage of theories explaining the drop, from usual suspect global warming to the St. Clair River’s deep-dredged navigation channel causing excessive outflow. The International Joint Commission is a US-Canada regulating agency for the Great Lakes and has held public hearings on the subject. The results of these hearings, and action recommendations, are expected later this year. Meanwhile, the issue continues to gain traction. TVO’s The Agenda recently covered Ontario’s dropping water levels in a program entitled Trouble on the Great Lakes. And you can now sign a petition asking the Prime Minister to take action. The petition’s accompanying video (produced by Sierra Club of Canada’s Restore Our Water initiative) is critical of the IJC’s perceived inaction on water levels:

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