51 / 34
      37 / 27
      39 / 28

      A fresh wave of discussions surrounding the Great Lakes

      Low water levels on the Great Lakes will be the focus of a forum in Lansing Wednesday.

      Low water levels and other problems facing the Great Lakes will be the focus of a forum in Lansing Wednesday.

      The head of Michigan's Office of the Great Lakes and other policymakers will discuss the declining levels as well as the impact of fresh water storage and diversion.

      The forum will also address which policies will best protect the vast water resource while meeting demands for freshwater and the valuable passageway.

      Some of the experts on hand during the event include, Jon Allan leads the Great Lakes office, a branch of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Michael Jones of Michigan State University's Quantitative Fisheries Center and Jennifer Read, deputy director of the University of Michigan Water Center.

      Lake Michigan and Lake Huron hit the lowest water levels ever recorded on the Great Lakes this year.

      The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said tests taken in January show the lakes were 29 inches below their long-term average and had declined 17 inches since January 2012.

      The other Great Lakes, Superior, Erie and Ontario were also well below average.

      Scientists say the drought and other natural forces, along with dredging of rivers that drain from the lakes, have contributed to the level drops.

      Low water causes economic concerns by forcing cargo ships to carry lighter loads, leaving boat docks high and dry, and damaging fish spawning areas.

      The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported a preliminary new record low water level for Lake Michigan-Huron for the second month in a row.

      The new record low of 175.57 meters or 576.02 feet is not only the lowest January monthly average water level ever recorded, but also the lowest monthly average ever recorded for any month over the official period of record for Great Lakes water levels, which extends back to 1918.

      Wednesday's Forum to discuss the issues impacting the Great Lakes begins Wednesday at 11:30am in the Mackinac Room of the Anderson House Office Building.