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Lake Michigan And Lake Huron Water Levels Hit Record Low, Effect Economy

Kevin Dooley, Flickr

Lake Michigan and Lake Huron have reached record low water levels this winter.

The effects of low water levels are many and include making a negative impact on local economies.

Low water levels effect shipping, tourism, fishing, and more.

Spring Lake Township Supervisor John Nash spoke to

“Is there any water?” said Spring Lake Township Supervisor John Nash, who also serves as president of the Spring Lake Lake Board. “At my dock, the water is way past the dock. I’ve never seen it like that.”

Nash noted that the decrease in water levels has an impact on the local economy, as every inch of water lost results in increased shipping costs.

In addition to the costs for goods and service, Nash said water-related tourism might also be impacted. has more details on the effects of low water levels:

— The coal trade on the Great Lakes declined 8.2% in 2012 from the previous year, and down a quarter off the 5-year-average — in large part due to falling water levels and a $200 million backlog in necessary dredging throughout the lakes, according to the Lake Carriers’ Association.
— Commercial fishing boats are finding it increasingly difficult to navigate some harbors, risking a downturn in a vital part of the Great Lakes economy, said Mark Breederland, an educator with Michigan SeaGrant, which works with coastal communities on water-level issues, among other things.
— Charter boat operations and other businesses in coastal communities that depend on tourism fear the impact lower water levels will have from spring to fall, when tens of thousands of people flow into the state to boat, fish, eat out and shop.

The worries about the impact on tourism will grow as we near spring, but the effects on the shipping industry are being felt already.

See the latest water level data from the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

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