Our network

Where is the Great Lakes' water going? | News

Title (Max 100 Characters)

Where is the Great Lakes' water going?

MUSKEGON - (WZZM) - Lake Michigan's water level is at a record low, and despite our recent snowfall, experts say that isn't likely to change anytime soon. To understand why the water is low we need to understand how water gets into the lake.

Alan Stienman is director of the Annis Water Resources Institute at GVSU, an organization that looks at Michigan's water basin. "There is some amount of rain and snow that falls directly on Lake Michigan, but that is relatively a small amount of the total water budget," explains Stienmen. "Most of it is going to fall on land, and most of that percolates through the soils and enters in to our underground aquifers." The water then makes its way into Lake Michigan.

Since the Great Lakes are all connected what happens to one can influence the other. For example, if it snows in Canada, and if that snowfall is near a Great Lakes basin, that water can make its way into the lakes.

But as water comes into the lake, water must also leave the lake.

"The outputs include evaporation off the surfaces of the lake when there is not ice present," explains Stienman, "and also outflow through the bottom and this case out of the bottom of Lake Huron as it enters the Saint Clair river."

"Over the last 30 years we have seen reduced inflow," explains Stienman. "We have seen increased evaporation and the outflow has stayed the same, but when you have less inflow, and more evaporation you will have lower water levels.

So the reason why the Great Lakes is losing more water than it is gaining, according to Stienman, is climate change. How Michigan is going to adapt to the changes remains to be seen.