U.S. Water News Online
MILWAUKEE -- Lake Michigan and the rest of the Great Lakes
could be headed for record low water levels this summer, raising
concerns for shippers and marina operators.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers predicts that by July, all of the
lakes are expected to be at or below their levels of 2001, which were
the lowest since the record lows in 1964.
The corps predicts Lake Michigan will peak this summer at a level
ranging from six inches above to two inches below its high mark in
``The big difference this year is El Nino,'' said Philip Keillor,
coastal engineering specialist for the University of Wisconsin Sea
Grant Institute. ``Dry conditions are predicted, and we don't see any
With little rain last fall and lower-than-normal snowfall this
winter, El Nino's warm and dry impact means low levels of
precipitation to replenish the lakes, Keillor said.
The South Milwaukee Yacht Club caters to powerboats and tries to
keep a depth of six feet in the harbor to accommodate its largest
``We are obviously very concerned about not having high enough
lake water levels,'' said Tom Schulz, commodore of the club.
Schulz said dredging the mouth of the harbor this year could cost
at least $40,000.
For the Port of Milwaukee, dredging is not an option because it
could harm the foundations of dock walls, said Larry Sullivan, chief
engineer at the port.
The water level in the harbor is within an inch of its minimum
depth, so some ships carrying coal, salt and stone and other
commodities might not be able to enter the harbor this year. Others
will be forced to carry less cargo, Sullivan said.
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