Low water in Great Lakes causes worry

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Low water in Great Lakes causes worry

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TORONTO (Reuters) - Several massive vessels have run aground on Michigan's Saginaw River this shipping season, caught in shallow waters a few miles from Lake Huron.

The river port is as shallow as 13 feet in a passage that is supposed to be 22 feet deep, a sign of low water levels in North America's five Great Lakes -- Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario.

Water levels declined in 1998 and have remained low, forcing ships to take on lighter loads and sparking concern about shorelines and wetlands in the Great Lakes, the world's largest supply of freshwater and a major commercial shipping route for Canada and the United States. Iron ore and grain are among the biggest cargoes shipped on the lakes.

"It's a pretty different mindset to come off 30 years of above-average water levels and to suddenly, since the late 1990s, have below-average levels," said Scott Thieme, chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office in Detroit.

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Great lakes water levels so low that ships are running aground.
By YCON: posted on 4-7-2006

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