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UPDATE: Great Lakes tour highlighting climate change and historically low water levels

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow is on a 7-city tour around the Great Lakes. Among the issues she has been highlighting is low water levels in the Great Lakes.

This morning, CBC reports, “Historically low water levels in the Great Lakes may seriously impact the environment and consumers. …In addition to adverse effects on the ecosystem, such as areas where fish spawn along Georgian Bay and Lake Huron drying up, the low water levels can impact the economy. Boats can’t be fully loaded if they are not sitting deep enough in the water. This increases the cost of shipping and directly impacts consumers. …Low water levels in Lake Huron have caused officials to postpone ferry service until at least Friday, May 10. The ferry service usually runs between Manitoulin Island, Tobermory and Bruce Peninsula.”

The article adds, “Water levels in some of the Great Lakes have dropped to the lowest levels in decades, reports CBC’s Aarti Pole, and experts say these steep drops are due to a lack of precipitation and warm weather. Less ice during the winter increases evaporation, said John Nevin of the International Joint Commission, which is tasked with assisting the Canadian and U.S. governments in finding solutions to problems in waters that lie along or flow across the border.”

In late-February, Michigan Radio reported, “Nearly 100 mayors of cities located near the Great Lakes are urging President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to help fight historically low water levels in the lakes. The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative sent a letter last week to the president and prime minister.” The letter states, “We ask that you engage the full authority of your offices to find near, mid, and long term solutions to this problem.”

Last year, the Globe and Mail reported on the 2012 IJC study. That article noted, “The largest part of the drop in the lakes’ water levels is attributed to climate change: shorter winters and dry, hot summers meant more water evaporating from the lakes than was going back in through precipitation.” The significant impact of climate change on lake levels has also been highlighted in studies by the International Upper Great Lakes Study Board, the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Large Lakes Observatory, NASA, and the US Geographical Survey.

Barlow will be raising these concerns in the Ontario communities of Port Elgin on August 1 and Bayfield on September 28.

For more, please read:
Rochester groups are Protecting the Great Lakes Forever
NEWS: Dropping Georgian Bay water levels a concern
NEWS: Lake Huron, Lake Michigan at lowest water levels ever recorded
International Joint Commission to hold public hearing on lowering lake levels
NEWS: Climate change warming the world’s lakes
NEWS: Climate change warms Lake Superior