Low Water In Lake Michigan Cause For Concern


Scientists say the record low water level of Lake Michigan could mean problems for wildlife. Other people who watch the lake for recreation say they’re worried about the long-term health of the water body.

The Army Corps of Engineers says the water level in Lake Michigan hasn’t been this low since at least 1918. If the low levels continue, that will mean more problems for shipping companies and recreational boaters. Harvey Bootsma is a scientist at the UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences. He says low lake levels also cause problems for wildlife that hang out in coastal wetlands, “Those are very important areas for a number of fish species. Either because they spend their entire life there, or they spawn there, and those are nursery grounds for fish. And then there are other organisms in those areas as well: Many birds rely on wetlands and those are the species that are going to respond to these changes in lake levels.”

Bootsma says it’s hard to say if the water level in Lake Michigan is down because of a simple decline in rain and snow, or more evaporation is occurring because of climate change.

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At water’s edge, people who come to look at the lake say they’re concerned about the record low level. Bill Mueller says he thinks global warming is to blame: “I think it’s just another in the mounting body of evidence of climate change, and that in the larger sense is of great concern.”

Betty Cassidy says the record low water level of Lake Michigan is frightening. She may say a prayer for precipitation, “I think its God we need. We need more water in the lake.”

Federal officials say it may be a few months before they announce any plan to boost the water levels of Lake Michigan and its connected sibling, Lake Huron.