"Where Did All The Water Go?"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Friday, October 19, 2012

Where did all our water go? Have you looked at the lake lately? Yes, it’s still there but it’s a lot lower than anyone remembers seeing it.

My daughter, who has a place in Grindstone, called me last weekend. She was very alarmed and asked me to come out to her property to view how low the water was. I have known about the low water for the past few years and each time I looked at the lake, I noted it getting lower. I didn’t pay real close attention to the level lately, but when I arrived at my daughter’s I sure did.

The first thing I noted was a sand crane standing in the water about 25 feet offshore from where the water’s edge used to be. The bird was in water so shallow, it barely covered its feet. As I took a few pictures, I recalled just a few years back when I pulled up to shore in my 22-foot boat with a 225 HP motor and three grown people in the boat. I was able to jump out of the boat and pull it up on the shore, then let the engine down to hold it. In the same area, boat hoists sat along the shoreline with small boats lifted out of the water. Kids were running jet skis into shore without a problem.

As I looked out over the water now, I noted I could see land up out of the water where the jet skis, paddleboats and kayaks floated. The water depth is at least three feet lower then it was just a few years ago. The spot I was standing on still had the pipes for pole holders when we used to fish there. Now it would be very difficult to cast out to the waters edge, let alone find any fish.

I’ve heard every excuse offered by the Corp of Engineers and other agencies about the water depths: most don’t make any sense. Some say the low water is a result of the drought. I suppose it may be a contributing factor, but I’m sure that is not the whole answer. There have been dry seasons in the past without this low water result.

Today, I had a person give his own opinion. He thought the problem was Traverse City and Bad Axe taking the water for personal use rather than using well water. Although I doubt that has anything to do with the issue, just in case, Bad Axe residents should cut back to one shower a week. They should also shower two at a time if possible and not for any longer than five minutes. I suggest this routine begin in the winter months when it’s not so warm that you perspire a lot. Another reason to start in the winter: a lot of us will be gone south, so it won’t be troubling to as many friends and neighbors.

But, seriously, I think someone has to own up to the cause and take steps necessary to stop the reduction of lake water. One person actually heard that while dredging the St. Clair River, they dug too deep and the water is running out the bottom. Going where? Are the salt mines filling up with water?

My belief has always been after changing the flow of the Chicago River to help keep the Mississippi deep enough for barge traffic, our water levels began to recede. When I suggest that is the cause, I’m told the barges are very shallow draft, so that can’t be true. I agree they are shallow draft, but the large tugs required to push 10 or more barges at a time have a very deep draft.

A few weeks ago, the evening news presented film about barges stuck in the Mississippi River. Are they lowering the gates and locks to increase the flow of water so the barges can move? Could it be our highly taxed lakefront properties and the Great Lakes shipping industry (which has had to reduce its loads) are being sacrificed? Some say Canada is siphoning off more water. But they use Great Lakes shipping also, so that is not likely.

One final thought: Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, which are at the same approximate level, are equally low. Lake Superior at the top is still high and Lake Ontario at the lowest point of the natural flow is very high. Just the lakes in the middle are suffering the loss of water.

As I see it, someone knows the truth. Why will they not share it with us?




Return to Home Page of Tipsforboating.com


Copyright © Fred Davis. All rights reserved.