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Higher Water Levels Make For Improved Water Sports This Holiday Compared to 2012

Posted at 10:15 PM, Jul 05, 2013

LAKE MICHIGAN — As people head to the lakes on the Fourth of July weekend, water levels are looking much better than they did during the holiday in 2012.

After lake and river levels hit record lows in last summer’s dry conditions, water levels are now on the rebound, making for a great day ont the water.

“It’s good all around to have the higher water levels,” Bill Hunt, Grand Rapids.

Bill and Sue Hunt are spending their holiday at Lake Michigan on the Treasure Hunter.

“You’re not at risk of bottoming out or churning up sand and brining that into your engine. So, you can pass different waterways. That’s definitely a benefit right there,” said Bill.

Debris that might be exposed by lower water levels is now a safer distance away from damaging their boats.

“With the way the weather was and the heavy rains, there was a lot of debris that was washed into the waterways,” said Bill. “And that settled in certain spots and the higher water levels allow you to go over that verses hit it and that’s obviously a great benefit.”

The National Weather Service reported Lake Michigan at 77.5 feet at both Ludington and Holland.

Meteorologists say the water is sitting at an inch or two above the levels at the same time last year.However, it’s still 20 inches below the traditional average.

Still, those who are enjoying the water are celebrating the change from 2012.

“It brings in more tourists more people to the area,” said Steve Vanderbroek of Grand Haven. “You can get larger boats into the slips. The marinas can pull boats more easily. You’re not worried about getting the larger boats in,” said Vanderbroek.

That’s also a benefit to commercial shipping because boats can carry more product for every extra inch of water.

According to Lt. Sean Brady with the US Coast Guard station in Grand Haven, a ship like the Manitowoc can carry an extra 181,000 pounds of cargo for every inch of water or extra depth in the lake.

However dredging is still critical to the shipping industry, even with improved water levels.

Hunt said higher water levels can mean less dredging in certain areas, which is better for your boat because there is less possibility of dirt getting into the engine.

Higher levels also mean something if you’re heading off the water, an easier time at the dock.

“The higher water levels makes it easier to get on and off some of the boats because it they line up with the docks,” said Bill.

The higher water is also helping some marinas that couldn’t park a number of boats there last year because water levels were too low.