The Economic Importance of Great Lakes Water Levels In 2023

Great Lakes Water Levels

We see stories about drought conditions in the Western United States from time to time. Unfortunately, this map shows how severely drought-stricken the Southwestern United States is right now. That fate has yet to visit the Great Lakes region of the U.S.

The United Nations predicts that in a few years, about 1.8 billion people will be living in extreme drought and water stress circumstances. Cape Town, South Africa, almost dodged “Day Zero” in 2017, when the municipal water supply was expected to be cut off.

The Economic Importance of Great Lakes Water Levels

Recognizing the economic importance of the Great Lakes region, water level history has been continuously recorded since 1918. The famous Union Army General George Meade created the water level technique and measurements during his investigation of Lake Huron in 1856. Current water levels on Saginaw Bay’s southern shore are similar to those observed in 1973 and 1986, according to residents.

Water levels in the Great Lakes are expected to approach or remain around record levels in the coming years. High water levels can cause beach erosion, marshland habitat loss for hatching wildfowl, and interruption to port and marina services and dock levels. Many marinas have experienced submerged docks. Because of the great unpredictability of water levels, some ports and marinas in Michigan have been closed.

In 2020, Communities Sought The Declaration Of A State Of Emergency.

As early as February 2020, Great Lakes water levels reached new highs. Beach erosion and road washouts have caused an estimated $30 million in damage to Michigan State Parks. Lake Superior threatens to wash down County Road 107 in the Upper Peninsula’s Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. This would obstruct access to the park’s main campsite and the iconic Lake of the Clouds.

Tawas City Council approved a resolution calling for Michigan’s waterfront to be declared a disaster area across Saginaw Bay. Iosco County Emergency Management requested more than 48,000 sandbags from the US Army Corps of Engineers in November 2019 to deal with coastal flooding from Lake Huron.

Lake Michigan Shore Towns and Legislators Wanted An Emergency Declaration

Great Lakes water levels have impacted the West Michigan town of Elk Rapids, prompted the municipality to seek Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan legislators to declare Great Lakes shorelines a disaster region due to rising Great Lakes water levels in December 2019. Petoskey, Pentwater, and Rogers City have also expressed interest.

Twelve West Michigan legislators asked Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to declare a state of emergency for the Lake Michigan coastline due to the record high water levels. Because of its western exposure to prevailing westerly winds, the Lake Michigan shore has been particularly prone to erosion and destruction.

Bradley Slagh (Zeeland), House Speaker Lee Chatfield (Levering), Triston Cole (Mancelona), Beth Griffin (Mattawan), Jim Lilly (Park Township), Jack O’Malley (Lake Ann), Greg VanWoerkom (Norton Shores), Pauline Wendzel (Watervliet), Mary Whiteford (Allegan), Brad Paquette, Niles, and Scott VanSingel (Grant), and Terry Sabo (Grant) signed (Muskegon).

Is It Possible To Take Away Great Lakes Water?

According to a recent article on Fox News talk radio station KLIX in Idaho, they should start “borrowing the Great Lakes” by sending Lake Michigan to Idaho to ameliorate drought conditions. “Millions of thirsty western voters will have a lot of power on policy,” the piece continues. As the area expands, so does its influence in the US House of Representatives. The Senate is already biased in favor of Western interests by design. So Lake Michigan may be making its way to Idaho.”

Drought in Idaho Could Be Solved by Borrowing from the Great Lakes – KLIX 1310

This isn’t the first or last time we’ve heard someone siphoning water from our region’s lakes. However, this is the first time I’ve heard a threat to remove the water.

Water from the Great Lakes is a valuable resource that must be preserved.

These vast interior freshwater oceans, shared with Canada and stretching more than 750 miles from west to east, supply water for consumption, transportation, electricity, and pleasure. The Great Lakes basin contains 84% of North America’s freshwater. Approximately 21% of the world’s surface freshwater supply. The Great Lakes provide drinking water to 10% of the US population, 30 million people, and more than 30% of the Canadian population.

Water is essential in the manufacturing process. The average passenger automobile requires around 39,000 gallons of water to be manufactured by a Detroit automaker. A single tire produced by an Ohio tire manufacturer requires around 518 gallons.

Those who have studied this topic are well aware that sucking any considerable amount of water from the Great Lakes is nearly impossible. A project of this magnitude would cost hundreds of billions of dollars. Furthermore, the Great Lakes Compact, to which both the US and Canada have signed, prohibits water withdrawal from the Great Lakes watershed. However, the concept is still discussed from time to time.

That is not to imply that the Great Lakes are entirely safe. Nestle, for example, extracts 400 gallons of water every minute from the region’s aquifers and sells it to us in plastic water bottles.

Is It The Great Lakes Water Levels Or The Dull Weather? made a fascinating and correct remark. “In many places of the United States, the likelihood of severe climatic hazards and natural catastrophes contrasts significantly with Greater Cleveland and the rest of the Great Lakes, where storms, drought, earthquakes, and the like are of little consequence.” Great Lakes water levels affect weather patterns of the entire upper midwest. 

While teaching at Cleveland State University in the 1990s, Matt Barkett, a public relations consultant with the Cleveland firm Dix & Eaton, coined the phrase “climatically dull” for the Cleveland area. He added that computer businesses were offering backup data centers and information technology operations for New York insurance companies attempting to limit the potential of weather-related interruptions.

“Companies are absolutely concentrating more on the benefit of being in a climate-friendly environment and how that might affect their bottom line,” said Mark Henning, a research associate at Cleveland State University’s Energy Policy Center.

The Great Lakes, as a climatic refuge, are starting to appear on the economic radar. National publications are taking note, including the prominent Site Selection magazine, which complimented the area’s enormous water resources in an article virtually sure to be read by the same people directing businesses to one place or another.

Could The Great Lakes Serve As A Safe Haven For Water Refugees?

Likely, the whole Great Lakes Region will soon become a water-stressed American paradise. Assume, for example, that climate change creates extensive drought in the United States. According to one dire drought forecast, the western states might be in this situation for hundreds of years. In that case, you may expect a large migration of people and companies looking for our priceless water.

Municipalities and Great Lakes states must think about a sustainable plan for an inflow of persons seeking water and weather relief in a future water-thirsty nation.

Sources For Great Lakes Water Levels

  • Idaho Drought Could be Solved by Borrowing the Great Lakes.
  • Seminar On Water Quality Management Trade-offs
  • Without hurricanes, wildfires and water shortages, is the ….


Malcom Mott

Malcom is a student at Saginaw Valley University near Flint, Michigan. He is an avid writer and contributes to online media, and dabbles in using AI technologies to find new vegan recipes.

View all posts by Malcom Mott →