Wis. (AP) — Water levels on the Great Lakes are so low that shippers are
being forced to leave as much as 15 percent of their cargo behind, said
industry experts who are working to find ways to alleviate the problem.
and Huron are about 26 inches below their long-term monthly averages, and
Lake Superior is about 13 inches lower, the U.S Army Corps of Engineers
has said. Even though the lakes are expected to rise 2 to 4 inches in the
next month, that's small consolation for shippers who are finding the
waterways difficult to navigate.
gathered this week in Green Bay to discuss the issue and consider
solutions, the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported (http://gbpg.net/14txLxB).
"One of things
we're looking at is: What are all these economic impacts and what are the
costs of low water?" said Ray Johnston, president of the Chamber of Marine
Commerce. "And are there any viable engineering solutions or
infrastructure investments that can be made?"
low water levels have been growing for years among commercial and
recreational lake users. Commercial users are especially concerned because
heavily laden ships need a minimum volume of water. Without enough water,
loads must be reduced.
Dean Haen, the
director of Brown County Port and Solid Waste, said each inch of lost
water translates to about 100 tons of cargo being left behind.
operating vessels 10 to 15 percent below capacity, that's an additional
cost for those commodities on board," which translates into additional
costs for consumers, he said.
continued dredging is helping to keep the port open.
"All we can do
is advocate for whatever dredging dollars we need to keep the port open
and viable," he said. "You have to operate within the conditions as they
week, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation providing $21 million
in emergency funds to dredge state harbors that are in danger of becoming
impassable because of low water levels. The legislation sets aside money
for 49 dredging projects.
water levels have also been observed on the St. Lawrence Seaway, but not
to the same degree as with some of the Great Lakes, said Craig Middlebrook,
acting administrator of the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp.
been as acute, but we're still affected by low water," he said. "I was
talking with one of our major carriers last week who ... calculated last
year it translated into leaving 9 percent of their cargo on the dock.