Great Lakes levels are
on the rise
Democrat and Chronicle staff and wire reports
Water levels for the Great Lakes
this year might be higher than average -- reversing conditions
in 2001 that left docks bone dry and harbors shallow --
according to a new assessment by the U.S. Army Corps of
On Lake Ontario,
water levels will be as much as 5 inches above normal
by June, when the lakes typically brim with the most water
of the season.
The trend is already evident on Ontario,
said Rich Thomas, chief of the corps' water management
section in Buffalo.
The lake's historical March average depth is 244.98 feet
-- 4 inches lower than the present reading.
Lake level averages are calculated
based on the years 1918 to 2000.
"It's good news that we're
above average," said Thomas, but he warned that a
few months of poor rainfall or melted snow might change
In January, the corps did not hold out much hope that
low water levels in the lakes would ease.
But in a new assessment, the corps said lakes Michigan
and Huron should rise about 8 inches from last year, and
increase about 5 inches.
A very rainy fall and average snowpack
around the Lake Superior basin
this winter should combine for higher lakes come spring,
the report said.
"Earlier we were saying that we expected conditions
to be about the same as last year, but now we think we'll
see some definite improvement," said Keith Kompoltowicz,
meteorologist with the corps' Detroit
"This is good news because I've really had some
hard times launching my boat at different ramps around
the state," said fisherman Greg Reynolds of Anchor
"I've seen more than a few boats hit bottom or a
pile of rocks hidden just below the water's surface."
Freighters that carry iron ore to area steel plants also
have had trouble.
For each inch the lake went down, shippers had to lighten
their load by about 100 metric tons.
With the lakes expected to rise, freighters should be
able to carry more weight without fear of running aground.
A 1999 Michigan
study said Michigan
marinas lost about $30 million that year, mostly because
of the high cost of dredging to ease access.