Skip to content

NEWS: US Geographical Survey report on the Great Lakes

The Associated Press reports that, “A federal report says the Great Lakes region could experience water shortages in some locations because of climate shifts or surging demand, despite being the world’s largest freshwater system. (The US Geographical Survey report) says the Great Lakes have so much surface and ground water that heavy use and development have not greatly affected the overall supply. Yet it says shortfalls have popped up in some areas and others could happen.”

The USGS media release says, “Pumping in the Chicago and Milwaukee areas has caused local groundwater levels to decline as much as 1,000 feet. Moreover, if pumping were to increase as anticipated in the region, water levels in these areas are estimated to decline an additional 100 feet by 2040.”

Howard Reeves, USGS scientist and lead author on this assessment, said, “While there is an abundance of water in the region, we may see local shortages or conflicts because water is not distributed evenly. In some areas, the physical quantity of water may be limiting, and water availability in most of the Great Lakes Basin will be determined by social decisions about impacts of new uses on existing users and the environment.”

The 120-page USGS report can be found on-line at http://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/1778/pp1778_completereport.pdf.


1- A NASA media release stated last November that, “In certain regions, such as the Great Lakes and northern Europe, water bodies appear to be warming more quickly than surrounding air temperature.” The study says that, “The results have implications for lake ecosystems, which can be adversely affected by even small water temperature changes.” More at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=5444.

2- The Canadian Press reported last July that, “Normally frigid Lake Superior has warmed up faster than usual this summer due to a winter with little ice and a record-warm spring, according to researchers. Surface temperatures are about 11 degrees Celsius higher than normal for this time of year and could be on their way to record highs, said researchers at the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Large Lakes Observatory. …Climate change is responsible for the warming effect, the researchers said. ‘Lake Superior is responding to global climate shifts as clearly as anywhere on Earth,’ they said.” More at  http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=4183.

3- In December 2009 it was reported that a major new report by International Upper Great Lakes Study Board has found that climate change has already caused a discernible drop in the water levels of the Great Lakes. The report, that involved more than 100 scientists and engineers, estimates that Lake Huron and Lake Michigan have fallen about a quarter metre relative to Lake Erie over the last fifty years with 40-74 percent of that reduction due to climate change. More at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=2535.

The AP report is at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/sns-ap-mi–greatlakes-shortages,0,5889542.story. The US Geographical Survey media release is at http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=2694&from=rss_home.

For an overview of the primary threats to the Great Lakes, please go to this campaign blog http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=3796.