Great Lakes water drop could hinder ecology and economy

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported the Great Lakes have hit their lowest water levels in decades. Area experts say this could be bad news for wild life and the shipping industry.

Low water levels alarm experts

Lake Huron hit it's lowest water level on record in 2012. (Mark R. Rummel/Associated Press)

 Researchers at The Great Lakes Institute are concerned with falling water levels in the Great Lakes Basin.

But experts say the area’s eco-system won’t be the only one to suffer.

More than a decade of below-normal rain and snowfall and higher temperatures has water levels hitting a record low, according to information released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Corps said Lake Michigan and Huron have hit their lowest water levels recorded: 74 centimetres below average.

"People are seeing shore lines that they've never seen before," said Aquatic Ecologist Jan Ciborowski.

He went on to say lower lake levels mean less wetland for fish to spawn in and many aquatic plants are left to die on dry land.

In the last few months low water levels have also caused problems for boats in Wheatley.

This situation could cause economic problems in the future, according to Windsor Port Authority CEO David Cree.

Shipping vessels may not be able to load as much cargo, Cree said.

Army engineers attribute some of the blame to dredging of the St. Clair River, which increases the flow of water out to Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and then out to the sea.

Dredging is just one factor being examined by the International Joint Commission, a cross border agency that helps both governments find solutions to waterway problems.

"The IJC is considering the adaptive management approach. Which is to give proper monitoring and modeling scientifically and bring scientists from both sides, both countries to evaluate and make recommendations for better measures," said IJC Director Saady Jasim.

The IJC will release their findings early next month.