Great Lakes: "Low Waters and High Anxiety"

25 Senators are asking the White House to spend more money on dredging harbors and channels -- a special problem in the Great Lakes, where near-record low water levels caused by drought and possibly climate change are costing shippers money.

"This summer’s drought has continued to draw down water levels in Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron (hydrologically speaking, Michigan and Huron are the same body of water). New forecasts suggest that water levels in the two lakes may soon hit an all-time low, aggravating an economic quandary: with such low levels, cargo ships have to forgo millions of dollars of freight.

Last month 25 senators signed a letter calling on the federal Office of Management and Budget to devote more money to dredging the nation’s harbors. Federal taxes on ship cargo in coastal systems, including the Great Lakes, flow into a Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, from which money is appropriated for operations and maintenance of harbors and ports, they noted.

Despite a balance of more than $8 billion, recent appropriations have averaged only $800 million, according to the letter."

Chris Bentley reports for the New York Times September 24, 2012.

Source: Green/NYT, 09/25/2012