Where's the water? - Page 2 - SailNet Community
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post #11 of 16 Old 11-08-2007
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This explains it. The construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway in the '50s made water level control necessary. It primarily affects Lake Ontario, but there has been scuttlebutt for years that it affects the higher lakes as well.

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post #12 of 16 Old 11-13-2007
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Val - We can't really do much to influence Superior, it's just too big. If we could stop every drop of water from seeping in from the bottom, and every drop of rain, it would still take almost 200 years to drain it. And Michigan and Huron are smaller, but still too big to do very much with. At the other end of the scale is Lake Erie, which would drain in only about 3 years. For a look at todays lake levels in historical context, try:
http://www.waterlevels.gc.ca/C&A/netgraphs_e.html
or for more detail than you ever wanted to know about the topic, try:
http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/2007/1311/
which I found here:
http://water.usgs.gov/wateravailability/greatlakes/
or:
http://www.epa.gov/glnpo/atlas/index.html

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post #13 of 16 Old 11-13-2007
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This is how I understand it, please correct me if I'm wrong.

Lake Superior's level is controlled by the St Mary's River, which is pretty shallow and so will only allow Lake Superior to drop a few feet.

Lake Huron and Lake Michigan more or less have the same level, being joined at the relatively wide and deep straits of Makinaw. Their level is not controlled to the same degree as Superior since the St Clair River that drains them is 70 or 80 feet deep and these lakes are therefore subject to wider variations in water levels.

The minimum level of Lake Erie is dictated by the height of Niagara Falls which isn't changing very much any time soon. The fluctuations in depth of Lake Eerie are due to the variation in what Lake Huron and Lake Michigan send it. The viariation in depth of Huron and Michigan are pretty much directly translated to Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie.

Lake Ontario levels are being controlled to maintain the level in the St Lawrence. Hence, since the 1950's, it's level has been fairly constant.

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Last edited by CapnHand; 11-13-2007 at 11:37 AM.
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post #14 of 16 Old 11-13-2007
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Or one could look out the window and say, "damn it's been a dry winter, spring, and summer-we need some rain". (g)

“Scientists are people who build the Brooklyn Bridge and then buy it.”
Wm. F. Buckley, Jr.
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post #15 of 16 Old 11-13-2007
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The pessimist complains about the lack of rain, the optimist expects it to change and the realist digs a deeper channel to the lake (after filing for all of the neccessary permits).


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post #16 of 16 Old 11-29-2007
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The historical range of Huron/Michigan is about 6 feet.

I was at a presentation of the A.C.E. recently. They stated there is a 150 year cycle and a 30 year cycle within the 150. They showed a graph of the average 30 year cycle and then overlaid the most recent 30 years. The most recent 30 years overlaid perfectly over the average 30 year cycle. The good news is that the next 7 years are all up on that 30 year average. So we should have 3 feet or more of additional water over the next 7 years.
They also discussed that there is a study of putting a gate at the bottom of the St Clair River if the next 7 years don't produce more water. The gate will slow the flow of the river and keep more water in the system.

There are several places where water is diverted from the Great Lakes but it is all offset by diversions into Superior from Canada, north of Superior. Thank you Canada! The proposed schemes of sending water to the desert of the southwest will have to be approved by the Canadians per international treaty.

Just thought you'd like to know, eh
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