Jeff Gillies

Wisconsin newspaper criticizes government outreach on lake levels

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has for more than a year reported on the controversy surrounding a binational study on the cause of low water levels on lakes Michigan and Huron:

– The controversy surrounding the study board’s initial results
– The controversy of whether the study board was withholding a second report that contradicted the study’s results
– The controversy of the location and timing of official public hearings on the study

Recently, the International Upper Great Lakes Study published on its website an article on some Lake Michigan property owners’ preferences against government intervention to correct Lake Michigan’s low water level. Not surprisingly, the Journal Sentinel found it controversial. I wrote about the study board’s post for Echo. The biggest point of dispute is the post’s headline, “Lake Michiganders Don’t Want to See Water Levels Raised.” That sentiment conflicts with the majority of people attending a public hearing on the issue held in Wisconsin back in March 2010.

Lake Michigan property owners say, “Leave them lake levels alone”

An international study board is looking into raising the levels of lakes Michigan and Huron. This is at the urging of a group of Lake Huron property owners who insist that a bad dredging job on the St. Clair River – Lake Huron’s outlet – has drained their lake to an unnatural low. But a rising Lake Huron lifts Lake Michigan’s boats: They’re the same lake. So a member of the study board’s public advisory group asked his coalition of Great Lakes property owners what they thought about the prospect of a higher Lake Michigan.

Jeff Gillies

Restoration initiative: 2011 funding still in doubt; 2012 already trimmed

While advocates are still fighting for this year’s round of Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding, a federal budget official indicated that next year’s round is already on the chopping block. Congress approved $475 million for the restoration initiative in 2010, the program’s first year. President Obama requested only $300 million for the program in the 2011 budget, which Congress still hasn’t approved. As budget talks ramp up, some Republicans have singled out the EPA – which administers the restoration initiative – as ripe for cuts. The expectation was that the program would bounce back to $475 million in 2012.

Satellite watch: Lake Michigan’s tendril plume

On Dec. 17, a NASA satellite sailed over southern Lake Michigan after winds whipped up a tendril-like sediment plume. The satellite captured an image of the plume that caught the eye of the people behind the NASA Earth Observatory, an online repository of satellite images, photographs and other illustrations of both natural phenomena and human impacts on the planet. The plume results from winds blowing in from the north that set the water in southern Lake Michigan circulating in a counter-clockwise pattern called a gyre. The movement stirs up sediment from the lakebed, according to the Observatory.

NOAA forecasts wild waves on the Great Lakes after storm

The storm that dropped barometric pressure in Minnesota to the lowest recorded point in state history and ruined countless umbrellas across Chicago is still whipping up waves in the Great Lakes. Check out this animation from the NOAA Great Lakes Coastal Forecasting System for a look at how intense those waves will be over the next five days. Waves more than 20 feet high could roll through northern Lake Superior Wednesday evening.