Last Friday, the Great Lakes Coalition hosted “What Caused the Great Lakes Levels to Increase“ a webinar on the critical impacts of rising water levels along Michigan’s shoreline. Presenters included Drew Gronewold, Ph.D., Associate Professor, School for Environmental and Sustainability at the University of Michigan & Howard Learner, President, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center & Bernd Gigas, New York Professional Engineer & Consultant Engineer, Lake Ontario South Shore Engineering.
Dr. Gronewald presented on the changes to the traditional water balance of the Great Lakes, the challenges of forecasting amid a climate shift, and the ongoing impacts of soil saturation and runoff continued high levels will impact both shoreline and inland regions.
Howard Learner expressed the need to prepared for the new reality of high waters Local leaders need to approach land use differently based on the changes that we see happening in the water levels. He urged communities to use all the tools available to them included take advantage of wetlands and existing systems to absorb and channel water away from the shoreline, implementing setbacks, and removing factories and toxic storage facilities along the coast.
Bernie Gigas covered what actually can be done to structurally mitigate the impacts of high water such as reducing the inflow diversion from Lake Superior during times of high water and increase outflow diversion in Lake Michigan via the Chicago River. Gigas also recommended infrastructure changes that could modify the water capacity in the Detroit and Niagra Rivers.
You can watch the full webinar here.
USACE has released its 6-month water level forecasts for the Great Lakes. You can view the PDF of each of the Lakes’ projections below:
- Lake Superior
- Lake Huron
- Lake St. Clair
- Lake Erie
- Lake Ontario
Herasanna Richards is a legislative associate handling energy, environmental, elections, and external municipal services for the League. She can be reached at [email protected] or 517-908-0309.