Good News for Great Lakes

     With a little snow and some frozen lakes the water levels for the Great Lakes will be on their way upward.

Increase in depth encouraging sign for boaters in 2010

Jim Lynch / The Detroit News

Detroit — The finish line for 2009 is looking like a wet one, and that’s good news for the Great Lakes as water levels continue a two-year rebound.

The latest data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers show the Michigan-Huron lake system and Lake Superior are between 5 and 9 inches above levels from one year ago. Lake Erie is also up, sitting an inch above last year’s level.

Other lakes are also in the ballpark, with Lake St. Clair an inch below last year’s levels and Lake Ontario 3 inches below. Added precipitation through the remainder of December will only improve the Army Corps’ outlook for the warmer months of 2010.

That means boating season will likely begin with the lakes maintaining their levels from 2009. For many, that’s welcome news since the lakes’ depth consistently decreased for the first seven years of the decade.

In the summer of 2007, Lake Superior reached a record low, and many living in the region believed those waters might never rise again.

According to Army Corps data, Lake Ontario, Lake Michigan/Huron, Lake Erie and Lake Superior ended November within inches of historical levels for this time of year. And Lake St. Clair is slightly above its historical level.

"If we have good ice cover on the Great Lakes and get a lot of snow in the Upper Peninsula this winter, I have no doubt that by spring that the water levels will be back to where they used to be," said Doug Martz, the St. Clair Channel keeper.

Martz lives in a Harrison Township neighborhood where homes have access to Lake St. Clair via a canal system. But it has been some time since the boats could be used due to the lower levels.

"I haven’t been able to keep a boat in my backyard for six or seven years," he said.