Corp of Engineers May Look at Reducing River Flow from Lake Huron after Levels Dip to Lowest Since 1918

Corp may consider putting structures in St. Clair River to boost water levels in Lakes Huron, Michigan
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may take another look at placing structures in the St. Clair River to boost water levels in Lakes Huron and Michigan.

The new record low of 175.57 meters or 576.02 feet is the lowest levels recorded, since record keeping began in 1918.
"Not only have water levels on Michigan-Huron broken records the past two months, but they have been very near record lows for the last several months before then. Lake Michigan-Huron’s water levels have also been below average for the past 14 years, which is the longest period of sustained below average levels since 1918 for that lake," said John Allis the chief of Great Lakes Hydraulics.

The Corps is forecasting a strong likelihood of continued record lows over the next several months.

 

Water levels on the remaining Great Lakes are expected to remain below average levels, but above the record lows.

The St. Clair River is at the southern end of Lake Huron and has been dredged over the years to deepen the navigational channel. That allowed more water to flow out of the two lakes, which are connected.

Keith Kompoltowicz is watershed hydrology chief with the Army corps district office in Detroit.

He says Congress authorized the corps long ago to put structures in the river to slow the outflow, but nothing happened.

He says the corps may ask Congress for money to study whether such action should be taken.

Read: Declining lake levels reveal more shipwrecks in Michigan.

Low water levels are the result of below average snowfall during the winter of 2011-2012, coupled with a hot and dry summer.

Together these conditions led to only a 4 inch seasonal rise of Lake Michigan-Huron, compared to the average rise of 12 inches.

Above average precipitation and snow cover joined with below average evaporation this winter are needed to raise water levels.

It would take favorable conditions over many seasons for levels to rise to average levels.

The Corps say they will continue to monitor basin conditions and updated information is available at www.lre.usace.army.mil.