Home Around Town Ever-higher lake levels pose problems here

Ever-higher lake levels pose problems here


By Scott Sullivan


Record-high water levels are forecasted on lakes Superior, St. Clair and Erie plus very high ones on lakes Michigan and Huron, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District announced last week.

Recent wet conditions led USACE hydrologists to predict six-month levels will exceed records set in the early 1950s and mid 1990s on the three lakes.

Levels on Lake Michigan and local waterways it affects? Look around, for instance, on flooded and barricaded Washington Street in Douglas (shown at right) under the Blue Star Bridge. Washington there was also barricaded for several months last year.

“Several months of wet weather, including a significant snow pack across the northern Great Lakes basin and recent heavy rain, have pushed water levels higher than originally forecasted,” said Corps Detroit District watershed hydrology chief Keith Kompoltowicz.

As of USACE’s May 3 weekly forecast, Lakes Michigan/Huron — grouped because their levels are similar — stood at 581.04 feet above sea level, up 8 and 9 inches above their respective levels last month, also higher than their levels at this time last year. They are expected to rise another 4 and 3 inches over the next month.

The Great Lakes region, said Kompoltowicz, will continue to see the threat of coastal flooding and shoreline erosion, especially during storms. Localized water levels are often impacted by winds and can be much higher then.

Water levels and flow rates in connecting Great Lakes channels are also high and may, depending on winds and other atmospheric conditions, lead to localized flooding.

The Corps has authority to help communities fight floods by providing technical expertise and, in certain instances based on requests through the state, furnish supplies such as sand-bags and plastic sheeting.