One of my real estate associates and I spent some time recently discussing a topic that is becoming increasing more frequenct both within and outside the real estate community, the declining water levels in Georgian Bay and indeed the Great Lakes in general. Locally, the barometer I use to monitor levels in the Bay are the shoals, or should I say newly formed "islands" off Northwinds Beach. Not so many years ago, one could gaze northwards across Georgian Bay and see nothing but blue water. Today, the horizon is punctuated with numerous shoals which seemingly protrude higher above the surface of the water with each passing month. Another scale I use is at my own cottage on Manitoulin Island, where in the spring of each passing year I am pushing my dock further and further out from shore in order to gain enough depth to dock a boat. Not long ago, the water level in the photo above was at the tree line along the shore.
This fall, Lake Superior which by and large has enjoyed water levels relatively constant in recent years as compared to the declining waters of Lakes Michigan and Huron saw its level drop to one of the lowest on record. While climate change may be responsible for some of these dramatic declines, many people are pointing the finger at other causes such as the outflow of water from Lake Huron via the St. Clair River.
Years ago the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredged the St. Clair River to enhance the shipping lanes which was necessitated in part by the increased size of great lakes ships. Some of these larger vessels were constructed right here in Collingwood. Add to that is the fact that the St. Clair River bed is eroding thus increasing its depth and the transfer of water from Lakes Michigan and Huron to Lake St. Clair which is in fact rising as the former two decline.
To grasp the severity of the problem I recommend viewing part of a CBC report accessible via the Georgian Bay Association website at http://www.georgianbay.ca/. This website also offers some excellent historical and other information pertaining to the cycles affecting the levels in the Great Lakes.
This is an issue that has an enormous impact on our area including waterfront property values, recreational activities and many aspects of our economy in an area which is becoming increasingly driven by tourism. While one might argue the cause, declining water levels in the Great Lakes are a reality and affects us all. Immediate action is required if we are to preserve the lifestyle we all too often take for granted. If you have or are feeling the affects of this situation please post comment.