Rising water levels in the Midwest and Great Lakes have been welcomed in some areas, but have also presented challenges in other regions.
After years of severe drought, the Midwest and Great Lakes regions have experienced a rise in water levels due to the deep freeze and heavy snowfall last winter, and in many areas heavy spring and early summer rain.
Rising levels have meant the postponement of dredging plans in some areas of the Great Lakes, which has come as welcome news to many marina operators. But they also have meant more sewage in the water, more fog, risk of hyperthermia and no-wake zones in other parts of the Midwest.
“Water levels in the state of Minnesota have been challenging,”Marine Retailers Association of the Americas president Matt Gruhn told Trade Only Today. “With all the rain we’ve had this spring and summer, the most popular lake in the Twin Cities area, Lake Minnetonka, has been entirely restricted to a no-wake zone for pretty much the entire boating season so far. And it’s expected to be that way through the end of July. That’s been a challenge for our dealers around this area.”
Swimmers and boaters at the popular lake found docks under water, launch ramps flooded, beaches closed and wave-reducing speed restrictions for boats, according to the Star Tribune.
The high water and cold temperatures have also posed a health risk. Five kayakers were rescued from cold, rough waters on Lake Michigan Sunday, according to 9&10 News.
Dense fog warnings for Lake Michigan are expected to last through the summer as warm, humid warm air meets the cold water. Boaters were urged to be cautious of fog, as captured by two fishermen in a video that went viral.
While levels are rising in the Great Lakes, they still remained below average, according to reports that accompanied a Canadian study that estimated the economic impact of dwindling water levels to be more than $18 billion by 2050.
The study, conducted by the Mowat Centre for the Council of the Great Lakes Region, said water levels in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River “fell dramatically” in 1997-98.
Since then, the basin has experienced the longest extended period of lower water levels since the United States and Canada began tracking levels in 1918, according to The Canadian Press.
Many are happy that the heavy snow and ice cover from last winter have resulted in a rise in water levels for the Great Lakes.
Marinas on Lake Superior, Lake Huron and Lake Michigan had resorted to dredging their harbors in recent years.
At Baileys Harbor Marina, operators bought their own dredging equipment three years ago, a $60,000 purchase, and have been forced to dredge repeatedly so that boats could get in and out.
“It’s a relief to see so much water now,”Dave Nelson, an owner of the South Shore Pier in Ephraim on the waters of Green Bay,told The New York Times. “We just hope it stays this way.”