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Great Lakes Article:

How to slow St. Clair flow still in question
By Tina Lam
Detroit Free Press
Published February 20, 2008


Leaders of a $15-million study of lake levels in the upper Great Lakes -- Superior, Michigan, Huron -- and St. Clair said they're not yet sure whether the St. Clair River might need gates or weirs to halt its flow.

Eugene Stakhiv, one of the coleaders of the study, said laying data that show recent low levels on the lakes on top of historical data of low lake levels just before the Dust Bowl in the 1920s and 1930s, shows that the patterns are similar.

What is different, Stakhiv said, is that evaporation and lack of ice on the lakes in winter are major contributors to the current low levels, while the historic lows mostly were due to a lack of precipitation.

About 80 people at a presentation in Grosse Pointe Farms on Tuesday night heard that the study won't be complete until June 2009.

Even then, it still may not fully answer questions about whether low lake levels are caused by past dredging of the St. Clair River, as a Canadian homeowners group alleges, or what to do about it.

So far, data show the river is not eroding, which casts doubt on the theory.

But some of those in the audience said they're worried about the lows.

Phillip Wehrmeister of Grosse Pointe Park said he has a boat on Lake St. Clair.

"I want to know what they're going to do," he said. "Lake St. Clair is way far down."

Others, such as Mike Simmons of Clinton Township, said they're concerned that some water may be being illegally diverted from the lakes.

The study leaders said they do not believe there are any such diversions.

Legislation pending in the state Legislature, which all eight Great Lakes states have agreed to, would ban any future diversion from the lakes to other states.

"We must get that passed," said Kay Felt, a member of the public interest advisory group for the study and a resident of Grosse Pointe Shores.

Contact TINA LAM at 313-222-6421 or tlam@freepress.com.

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