Every Little Drop Hurts

The next time you hear someone pooh-poohing a minor change in the environment - - an increase of one degree in temperature here, the loss of a few acres there, a little dip in level of one of the Great Lakes somewhere - - consider this:

Even the drop of one inch in the depth of the Great Lakes  - - and the level of Lake Michigan is down more than four feet in recent years - - wreaks havoc with Great Lakes cargo shipping and its profitability, according to a recent .

Here are the key paragraphs, and keep them in mind when you read that communities from southeastern Wisconsin to northern Illinois are lining up to pipe more water out of Lake Michigan, but often do not pledge to return the water and consistently minimize the diversions' aggregate impact on the Great Lakes:

"For each 1-inch drop in Great Lakes water levels, freighters have to reduce their cargo by 50 to 270 tons to avoid running aground in shallow channels and harbors, said Glen Nekvasil, a spokesman for the Cleveland-based Lake Carriers Association.

``At the end of last season, when Lake Superior was near its all-time low, our largest ships were loading 10,000 tons below their rated capacity,'' Nekvasil said.
``That's a lot of cargo to leave at the dock.''

Meanwhile,  from The Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce and some Waukesha politicians - - not including Waukesha City Mayor Larry Nelson - - is making it hard for a state legislative study committee to recommend changes to a US-Canada agreement that will help protect Great Lakes water.


March 28, 2007 - 10:02pm