News Story

Great Lakes water levels down but within historical averages

No deep conclusions from shallow evidence

There’s something happening on the Great Lakes that hasn’t happened in years,” an April 9 MLive headline reads.

The story by Mark Torregrossa highlights changes in water levels of the Great Lakes in the recent past. “It’s been a decade of water level extremes.” Readers are told that lakes surrounding Michigan grew from record lows in 2013 to record highs in 2020. But now water levels are falling back.

“It’s been a long time coming on anything normal with Great Lakes’ water levels,” Torregrossa concludes.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District has recorded average monthly water levels in the Great Lakes going back to 1918. Water levels have changed quickly in the past and the recent highs and lows have appeared before, too.

The relatively large increase from 2013 to 2020 mentioned in the MLive story amounts to a change of one percent. The Lake Michigan-Huron average level, for example, gained nearly seven feet over that period. But its overall average level is 579 feet, so in percentage terms, it is only a 1.2% increase.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.