Great Lakes Water Levels

July 2nd, 2014 at 3:05 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Kollen Park - Maranda picture    This is a picture of Kollen Park in Holland on the shores of Lake Macatawa.  I was there last night for a little picnic and to hear the fine Holland American Legion Band – that band has been together for 95 years.  They play free concerts Tuesday nights in the summer.  Lake Macatawa connects to Lake Michigan, so the water level of the lake goes up and down with the water level of Lake Michigan.   We’ll (I’ll be at this Park Party) be there in Kollen Park for the next Maranda Park Party, which will be July 10.

The water level of Lake Michigan/Huron is up 3″ in the last month. The lake is 10″ higher than it was one year ago and is now just 5″ below the long-term average. Lake Superior is 4″ in the last month. Superior is 13″ higher than it was last year at this time and is a full 7″ above the century average. Lake Erie is up 1″ in the last month and up 7″ year-to-year. Erie is 4″ above average water level and Lake Ontario is unchanged in the last month and 5″ above the long-term average. Lake St. Clair is up 3″ in the last month, up 10″ in the last year and 4″ above the century average. Outflow out of Lake Superior down the St. Mary’s River into Lake Huron is expected to be above average through July. Outflow from Lake Erie down the Niagara River, over Niagara Falls and into Lake Ontario is also expected to be above average flow.

The 10″ of water added to Lake Michigan is (at 390 billion gallons per inch) 3.9 TRILLION gallons of extra water in the lake since one year ago…a pretty amazing jump.

The south mid-Lake Michigan buoy remains at a very cold 46°.   I see the N.Y. Times has noticed the higher lake levels.  Note the article says:  “…the Great Lakes are now abruptly on the rise, a development that has startled scientists…The International Joint Commission, a group with members from the United States and Canada that advises on water resources, completed a five-year study in April 2013 concluding that water levels in the lakes were likely to drop even farther, in part because of the lack of precipitation in recent years brought on by climate change.”   That obviously hasn’t happened.  CO2 and the water levels of the Great Lakes do not make a good match.    Also, Great Lakes shipwreckslowering the threshold for “contaminated” beaches…and…using the cold waters of the Great Lakes to cool industry.

13 Responses to “Great Lakes Water Levels”

  1. GunLakeDeb says:

    Re: EPA and the threshold for contaminated beaches: I agree with Shannon Briggs – these proposed levels are ridiculously low. The current measurement uses e-coli (we use that because it’s is easy and cheap to test for), which is a bacteria found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals. There are MANY strains of e-coli, and the vast majority of them are harmless. The assumption is that where there’s e-coli, there’s usually other intestinal bacteria – but testing for those other bacteria is expensive and time-consuming. So e-coli is our “go-to cootie”….LOL!

    When a beach is tested, 3 areas are sampled and the geometric mean is used as the final number. Unfortunately, if the sample-taker dips a bottle shortly after a duck swam though and left a “deposit” – the high reading at that point can negate safe readings elsewhere – and the beach is declared “unsafe”. That happened here at Gun Lake last year. Lowering the standards could mean that your favorite beach is closed far too often, and for no particularly good reason. And if you’re the sort who can’t stand the thought of ANY e-coli in your water – you’d better take the kids to a heavily-chlorinated swimming pool and pray no toddlers are in the water with dirty diapers. Because any water that is accessible to wildlife (or meanders through agricultural areas) will probably have e-coli in it.

    The bottom line: people play/swim in contaminated water all the time. When the beach your family is visiting is tested today – the results won’t be known until tomorrow. And don’t console yourself saying “I’ve never heard of Blahblah Lake having their swim area closed” because it might be that nobody is testing that water.

    1. GunLakeDeb says:

      And back to those ducks (and geese and gulls): not only do they bring e-coli; the ducks and geese also bring Swimmer’s Itch. STOP FEEDING THEM. Stop training them to hang out where people congregate. Your child happily building sand castles at the water’s edge is in the highest e-coli “zone” – probably far higher than what testing shows the water to be.

  2. Daniel G says:

    Gunlakedeb, thanks for your commentary. I grew up on Gun Lake in the 60′s and 70′s. It was pretty much CONTAMINATED all the time, didn’t need testing to know that. After sewers were installed over time there was a marked improvement. And as Gun Lake was a high count of snails lake…you can get a good dose of the ITCH…don’t know if it still is though.
    As for geese and ducks….have a pair of Swans on an area of the lake, they keep the geese at bay. Works well up here on Myers Lake. Same pair of swans every year raise a brood and chase off any other swans and geese from their area. The WHOLE LAKE is their area! Anyone wants to screw with our swans will have a lot of trouble on their hands!

    1. GunLakeDeb says:

      Just curious: are your swans Trumpeters (huge black bills); or (more probably) Mute Swans (orange bills with black knobs on top)? Mute Swans are far more aggressive, and drive off the (Threatened Species) Trumpeters :-(

      Yes, the sewer system around Gun Lake made all this difference in the world!! But you bring up a good point: people DID swim in Gun Lake before the sewers were installed, and I hate to think of what the e-coli levels were….LOL! Heck – we drank water from the 25′ deep wells that were scary-close to the septic systems – eeeks! Yet we somehow survived ;-)

      1. Daniel G says:

        They are mutes. The only time we see Trumpters are in the spring and fall. Looking at Roger Tory Petersons great book on Eastrn Birds of North America one will notice that they, for the most part, are far northern birds….UP and further north then that even, well into Canada.
        Sewer system did the same up here for Myers and many other lakes in lower Michigan. Made them much cleaner (for the most part). Our sewer bill in Courtland Twp is 150 bucks a quarter. Well worth it in my opinion.

  3. Daniel G says:

    Oh yeah, Myers Lake is about as high a level as I’ve ever seen it in the 15 years we have been up here. Beach pretty much gone. Swamps in the area are SWAMPS again. Froggies are pleased.
    The higher lake Superior level means Edison Sault and the Corps of Engineers will be making more cheap electricity at the Soo as will Ontario and New York power authorities over near Niagra Falls. More water, more electricity, less coal used.

  4. Jack says:

    Hey, Daniel G. & GLDeb…. How’s The FISHING This Year in YOUR LAKES?? Staying CUEDD….. ;-)

    1. Daniel G says:

      Fishing is as good as to be expected…I guess Jack. Only thing is, we have a private lake, no public boat launch. I guess you can fish at the park but thats sort of a joke.

      1. Jack says:

        Private Lake, Don’t need a Fishing License Then. I fished Myers Lake many Years ago, With a Now Deceased Ole Friend of Mine. Nice Lake. I envy You ,always been a Dream of Mine to Live on A Lake. Problem is I would never Go To Work, I’d Be Fishing 24/7….LOL.. Thanks, and Stay CUEDD

      2. Jack says:

        Ps. Here is My favorite Way To FISH any Lake . SEE HERE::: http://i218.photobucket.com/albums/cc85/hartzejr/534.jpg.

        1. Brian(Grandville) says:

          I hoe you’re not eating those.

  5. Barb says:

    There is pretty much no beach on Lk. Huron now. If it were 5 inches higher, the dune grass would be underwater along the entire shoreline.

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