U.S. Water News Online
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Near record low water levels in Lake
Michigan and Green Bay have reduced the amount of cargo coming into
Although 68 ships have come into port this year, 141 fewer tons
have been transported to Green Bay, according to the Port of Green
The water in Green Bay is currently 578 feet above sea level, just
one foot higher than July's record low, set in 1964.
``The ships have had to come in with less cargo per ship,'' said
Port of Green Bay Director Dean Haen.
Limited cargo eventually affects consumers, Haen said.
``You're paying more for cement, you're paying more for coal. So
the paper mills are spending more on the coal to make their paper,''
he said. ``It all has a trickling effect through the economy.''
Historically, lake levels fluctuate 12 to 18 inches a year, rising
in the summer and falling in winter because of evaporation, snowpack
runoff, and ice buildup.
But since reaching near-record highs just three years ago, lake
levels have given way to what scientists say is warmer, dryer
``In the wintertime, if your temperatures are too warm, you don't
get that ice cover and see a lot of evaporation,'' said Tom Helman,
National Weather Service meteorologist.
Lake Michigan water levels were just 2 inches below average in
January 1999, but they have dropped steadily since then and now sit
more than 1.5 feet below average depth. Lake Superior is 1 foot below
Recent storms haven't helped all that much, Helman said.
``Yeah, we've had a lot of rain lately, but that's just a trickle
because these lakes are so big,'' he said.
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