Great Lakes Facing Serious Low Lake Levels, Shipping Impacted

By KBJR News 1

April 3, 2013 Updated Apr 3, 2013 at 8:59 PM CST

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Currently, Lake Superior is three inches below the level it was at this date, last year.

Overall, Superior is 13 inches below average.

Lakes Huron and Michigan are currently 15 inches below last year's levels, and 26 inches below average, overall.

The below average levels on the Great Lakes are being blamed, in large part, on the Midwest's prolonged drought.

It's a major concern for the shipping industry, say officials, noting that ships already have to reduce their cargo by 10 percent to make it through the various shipping channels throughout the Great Lakes.

Dredging the channels deeper than the reference point isn't an option, either.

"When the water level is lower than the reference point, you don't dig deeper to have the same depth channel. They only dig to the depth from the reference point," said Duluth Seaway Port Authority Facilities Manager Jim Sharrow, Wednesday.

Sharrow says dredging funds come from the federal harbor maintenance tax, but that only a fraction actually goes into its intended purpose.

He says officials are currently calling on Congress to take action on the issue.

- Posted to the Web by Billy Wagness

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