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Concern builds over Lake Michigan's floundering lake level

SAINT JOSEPH, Mich. - Concerns are rising over the dropping of Lake Michigan’s water level. The lake is less than a foot from its record low set in 1964.

“I’d say it’s at least two feet steeper in here than it used to be,” said Julie Lochmandy, getting on her 37-foot sailboat from the pier at West Basin Marina in Saint Joseph.

The distance between the edge of the dock and the deck of the boat seems further than the last time Lochmandy was in Saint Joseph and she’s not imagining things.

Lake Michigan has dropped now eight inches June of 2011.

Lochmandy had been sailing the lake for a week and said navigating has been difficult. “You have a tough time getting in and out of places,” she said. “Your keel will get stuck in the mud.”

“We’re getting hit from both ends,” said John Gruchot with the Saint Joseph Harbor Authority.

Not only are lake levels low but sediment build up has clogged the river. Low levels are a concern for commercial ships. “It does make the dredging that much more critical,” said Gruchot.

With low levels, Gruchot explained, one strong storm has a greater chance to clog up the harbor and its shipping lanes.  

“Know your port,” said Lochmandy. “If you don’t know where you’re going don’t do it.”

Lockmandy says watch out… because this year we’re treading in shallow water.


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