While good for shipping and recreational boating, rising water levels bring the prospect of more erosion, less beachfront property and more skirmishes over private property rights.
TNS Regional News
Dec 11, 2014
Federal scientists said Wednesday they are fairly confident the 15-year era of low Great Lakes water levels is over. Apply for quick cash via this link http://www.smallquickloans.org
The changes mean a return to normalcy for cargo shipping, recreational boating, and fewer costs associated with those sectors of the economy. The rising water levels also bring the prospect of more erosion, less beachfront property, and more skirmishes over private property rights.
Drew Gronewold, hydrologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, said the recovery for Lake Superior is the most rapid on record and the fastest since the 1950s for Lakes Michigan-Huron.
The semiannual forecast he and others released during a conference call with Great Lakes writers calls for more steady rises through May. They said they can only predict six months into the future and recognize the instability of climate change can be a real wild card, though.
During the call, scientists said they expect the upcoming winter to cast a more familiar spell on the Great Lakes region — cold, but not nearly as bone-chillingly frigid or snowy as last winter, with temperatures and precipitation that will be more typical because of a 65 percent chance of an El Nino weather pattern forming.
“This winter will not be like last winter,” James Noel, service coordination hydrologist for NOAA’s Ohio River Forecasting Center, said. “It will be much closer to normal.”
Even this fall, there has been a “very unusual” steady increase in Lake Superior and Lakes Michigan-Ontario water levels. Autumn is a time when lake levels typically start to recede because of how differences between air and water temperatures accelerate an evaporation process that continues until the lakes freeze.
Those lakes, which flow southward, are the driving forces behind Lake Erie’s average water level, which was 7 inches greater in November than it was that same month in 2013 and 6 inches above its long-term average. Scientists expect it will be 5 to 11 inches above its average May, 2014, level by next May, and continue to be 6 inches above its long-term average, Keith Kompoltowicz, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers watershed hydrology chief in Detroit, said.
Though they shied away from policy implications in other areas, scientists said during their briefing that the Great Lakes shipping industry welcomed a return to normal water levels this year because of how much more expensive it was carrying lighter loads for 15 years. Every inch of water lost costs the region millions of dollars in delayed shipping and extra trips.
Marinas won’t be under as much pressure to dredge with stabilized water levels. Scholars of water law, including those who have spoken at the University of Toledo in recent years, have said a couple inches more water can intensify battles over shoreline development and property rights, especially when higher water reduces the amount of beachfront property.
At last month’s annual Great Lakes water law symposium at UT, one panel focused on a national debate over coastal wetlands. Two U.S. Supreme Court rulings have failed to resolve which connecting ditches and streams are protected by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules. Scientists agreed there likely will be wetter marshes if there are higher lake levels, but they declined to speculate how they could affect the national wetlands debate.
For the most part, scientists who presented the hydrology data seemed impressed by the region’s rapid recovery in water levels, though a bit perplexed by how quickly it occurred, given how some trends take years to reverse.
This November’s mean for Lake Superior was the highest since 1997, Mr. Kompoltowicz said.
But Mr. Noel cautioned of greater variability in precipitation with a warming climate system, from storm surges to droughts.
“It is really a challenging question,” Mr. Gronewold said of long-term modeling for Great Lakes water levels under various climate scenarios.
By Tom Henry – The Blade, Toledo, Ohio (TNS)
©2014 The Blade (Toledo, Ohio)
Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory: October 10, 2014
This time of year is normally the season when Great Lakes lake levels begin to fall. Typically evaporation is greater than precipitation and runoff from rivers and streams. So there is normally less water going into Lakes Michigan, Huron, and Superior at this time of year. On Lakes Michigan-Huron July is typically the high water month. Lake Superior usually sees peak water level in July or August.
This year is different.
Lakes Michigan-Huron, and Lake Superior have continued to rise, even up to now.
Lakes Michigan-Huron have risen 3.1 inches since July. Normally those lakes would have dropped 2.8 inches since July. Lake Superior has risen 1.8 inches, while normally dropping 1.2 inches since July.
When we look at the current rise in levels on Lake Michigan-Huron versus the normal fall, we may have just gained almost six inches. In other words, if all of the rest of fall and winter go exactly normal, Lake Michigan-Huron will start next season’s water rise six inches higher than last spring. And that’s if everything is normal.
Lake Michigan-Huron is heading toward its peak water level in this month of October. If Lake Michigan-Huron peaks this month, it will be only the fifth time in the last 155 years the high water mark is in this fall month, according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.
Lake Michigan-Huron has never had its high water mark in November. If that happens, we really know we have a bizarre weather pattern.
Last weekend’s rain was big
In looking at the lake levels over the last seven days, Lake Michigan-Huron has risen 1.3 inches and Lake Superior 1.4 inches. The rise is due to the widespread heavy rain received late last week and this past weekend. Look at the rainfall map. All of the surface of Lake Michigan had over one inch of rain in the past week. Northern Lake Michigan had over three inches of rain on it. That’s a quick way to bring water levels higher.
The addition of 1.3 inches of water in Lake Michigan-Huron represents 1.4 trillion gallons of water. The 1.4 inches of new water on Lake Superior equals 770 billion gallons.
With another widespread rain system coming early next week, Michigan’s Great Lakes water levels should hold steady, or even rise more.
On April 19, 2014 the Winnetka Park District was awarded $119,000 from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Illinois Coastal Grants Program. This is a matching fund grant to develop the Winnetka Park District Lakefront Master Plan. Governor Quinn made this announcement at a press conference at Oak Street Beach which was attended by the Winnetka Park District Executive Director, Robert Smith.
The District’s project was one of 26 initiatives selected based on enhanced environmental awareness, shore management and sustainability planning. “We are honored to be recognized and are excited to kick off this major planning process of one of our District’s most valuable natural resource”, said Executive Director, Robert Smith. “It is a positive step to look at all five of our lakefront properties collectively.”
The Winnetka Park District Board of Commissioners has engaged the services of The Lakota Group (Project Leader/Landscape Architects), Gewalt Hamilton Associates (Civil Engineering), Shabica & Associates (Bluff Restoration and Coastal Engineering), Baird & Associates (Coastal Engineering) and OKW Architects (Recreation Architect/Facility Assessments) working as one unique team to assist our agency with a Lakefront Master Plan. This plan will encompass a community engagement process for the long-term viability of this natural resource. Focused attention will be placed on infrastructure, traffic, parking, bluff restoration, coastal/environmental issues, preservation and enhancement of native shoreline habits, facility usage and programming needs. As a part of this process, we have also incorporated the opportunity to help address sustainability issues with our lakefront residential property neighbors.
Over the next couple of months opportunities for public involvement will unfold. The Winnetka Park District will utilize numerous communication channels to keep the public informed and engaged. The best source for updated information is the District’s website page dedicated to the Lakefront Master Plan.
Click here for updates . . .