Low water in Great Lakes hampers boaters, marinas

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After a 12-month stretch of less-than-normal rain and snow, the bodies of Lake St. Clair and each of the Great Lakes are roughly a foot or more below their historical averages for this time of year, with forecasts of record lows in the coming months.

The levels have been down throughout the spring and summer, and now the lakes are beginning to see their seasonal decline — effectively making a bad situation worse. As a result, marinas that normally have no trouble getting boats in and out of the water are finding there isn't enough depth to do the job, according to an article in The Detroit News.

"This is the time of year when we typically see the sources of water leading to the lakes dry up," Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of watershed hydrology for the Detroit district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, told the paper. "The rivers and streams that feed the lakes are at their lowest levels. And evaporation starts pulling the water from lakes in larger amounts than what runoff and precipitation can put back."

In other words, low waters drop lower.

Nick DiSalvio said he saw what was coming and decided not to wait for the worst. DiSalvio, 60, has a classic C&C sailboat that he docks in Harrison Township and found last week that it was getting close to being trapped in shallow water.

"I've never seen the Clinton River down this much, and I've been sailing out here for many, many years," DiSalvio told the paper. "I had to pull my boat already. I usually keep sailing up until right around Thanksgiving. So I'm losing about a month of sailing time this year."

As of Wednesday, Lake Superior measured 600.69 feet above sea level — roughly 17 inches below its historical average for that day.

Lake Michigan/Huron system stood at 576.58 feet above sea level — almost 28 inches below its historical average.

Lake St. Clair stood at 572.70 feet above sea level — 16.8 inches below its historical average.

Lake Erie stood at 570.18 feet above sea level — 11 inches below its historical average.

Lake Ontario stood at 243.83 feet above sea level — 11.6 inches below its historical average.

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