The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), recently predicted that the Great Lakes water levels will rise again this spring for the fifth year in a row.
“It’s a result of weather patterns and the fact that southern lakes like Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, they bore the brunt of what Mother Nature provided in terms of rainfall,” said Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of watershed hydrology at the Corps’ Detroit District.
Researchers believe Lake Superior will break its 1985 record of 2.33 feet above datum, which is the average water level. Lake Superior’s water levels could “attain or even surpass record high levels by May or June,” said Lauren Fry, a hydraulic engineer and forecaster for the USACE in Detroit, Michigan.
With rising water levels comes an increased risk of erosion for the lake’s shorelines, which can cause flooding in coastal areas. High risk erosion areas typically erode at a rate of one foot or more annually, and are monitored by The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
This water level forecast is great news for the shipping industry and boaters. Increased water levels make navigation easier and allow commercial ships to carry more cargo.
Joe Tatham is a previous president of the Detroit Power Squadron, a group that educates the public about water safety. As he put it: “the more water you have under your hulls, the safer it is to travel around.”
[Sources: The Detroit News; Chicago Tribune; United States Army Corps of Engineers]