Special Report: On the (Lake) Level
The International Joint Commission spent $3.6 million to study water levels of lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie. A five-part series on the controversial results. What did the study find, who still isn’t happy and what happens next?
Day 1: Report blames natural causes, not dredging, for low lake levels
When the Great Lakes are high, shoreline houses risk erosion that could tumble them into the water. When they are low, more structures are exposed to wind damage, boaters can’t pull up to docks and ships can’t transport as much cargo. And lately, both things have happened at the same time, puzzling scientists and frustrating property owners.
Day 2: Report weighs Great Lakes basin’s post-glacial bounce
Even today the Great Lakes landscape is bouncing back from the glaciers that retreated 10,000 years ago. A key question researchers recently sought to answer is whether that has anything to do with fluctuating lake levels. A Michigan State University geology professor explains how it might work.
Day 3: How a 1984 ice jam may have helped pull the plug on Lake Huron
An ice jam that stalled the St. Clair River for nearly a month in 1984 may have caused Lake Huron to drain faster in subsequent years. Citing a series of clues, including modeling projections, riverbed measurements and historical data, the report said that erosion caused by the ice jam could account for nearly four inches of Lake Huron’s lowered water levels.
Day 4: Drought over Lake Superior led to drop in lakes Michigan and Huron
Some shoreline cottage owners blame dredging and other human-caused activities for eroding the St. Clair River and lowering Lake Huron. But experts with the International Joint Commission cite variations in climate as the main cause for dropping lake levels in recent years.
Day 5: Regulating Great Lakes’ levels: it’s possible, but experts debate effects
Imagine turbines at the bottom of the St. Clair River that can control the height of the water on Lake Huron. What’s more, they can generate electricity. Sound farfetched? They’re not, according to Craig Stow, a physical research scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.
Other lake level stories from Echo and elsewhere.