Undercurrents: beneath the obvious

May 7, 2007

Increased Outflow from Lake Superior Despite Record Low Water Levels

Filed under: Great Lakes Issues,Lake Levels,Michigan — nemo @ 12:25 pm

As it has for several months running, Lake Superior’s water level stood at 18 inches below its monthly average for early May and 13 inches below its level at the same time last year. Even so, The Soo Evening News reports that the Army Corps of Engineers has increased the outflow from Lake Superior by almost 9%:

Amid growing accounts of low water worries from around Lake Superior, the Corps of Engineers announced this week that water released to the lower Great Lakes increased by 4,300 cubic feet per second (cfs) at the start of May.

The May increase in water released to the lower St. Marys River was apparently called for in the International Lake Superior Board of Control regulation plan for Lake Superior. The increase accompanies a slight seasonal rise in Lake Superior water levels last month.

In the announcement, the Corps said water released to the lower St. Marys increased from 48,700 cfs to 53,000 cfs for the month of May.

The statement said Lake Superior’s water level is expected to rise again in May, despite continued near-drought conditions across the Big Lake’s watershed.

The Corps reported water supply to all three Upper Great Lakes was below average in April.

Lake Superior remains below chart datum and just a few inches above its long-term record set in 1926. Water levels took a plunge late in 2006 due to widespread dry conditions across its watershed last summer. Relatively light winter snow pack provided only limited relief as the spring thaw set in by March.

Lakes Huron and Michigan rose in April by about two inches, or half the two lakes’ normal April rise. Like Superior, the two lakes stood at 16 inches below their average level for early May when this month began, the Corps of Engineers reported.

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  1. Have they gone insane? Our harbors are nearly empty and they are planning on increasing the outflow.

    Comment by John Poole — May 24, 2007 @ 9:44 am | Reply

  2. The increase in the release of 9%, or whatever should be halted immediately. Those of us with harbors, are finding the lower lake level of Lake Superior devistating. We spent over 3 million dollars in improvements last year, and now find it difficult to use the facility due to the continued loss of water.
    I will be contacting our representatives for their help regarding this.

    Comment by Dennis DeRosso, Chair, Iron County Board — May 25, 2007 @ 8:11 am | Reply

  3. Why are we as Canadians letting this happen? and why isn’t more information on this important topic shared?

    Comment by Andrew Parkinson — July 15, 2007 @ 10:02 pm | Reply

  4. May 21/2011,
    I am wondering if i will be able to put my boat in Lake superior this year as unable to do it the last few years.Why are you taking so much water out of Superior for the other great lakes. I feel that maybe with all the rainfall that Southern Ontario got this spring you could hold some back for us. Please reply as i like to boat & fish. Thankyou
    Len Johnson
    Pine Bay, Ontario

    Comment by Len Johnson — May 22, 2011 @ 1:03 pm | Reply

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