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Friday, February 8, 2013

Are The Great Lakes Drying Up?

In this Nov. 16, 2012 photo, the white streaks on a steel breakwall show the normal water level on Portage Lake at Onekama, Mich., which is connected by a channel to Lake Michigan. Levels across much of the Great Lakes are abnormally low, causing problems for small harbor towns that rely on boating and water tourism. (John Flesher/AP)

In this Nov. 16, 2012 photo, the white streaks on a steel breakwall show the normal water level on Portage Lake at Onekama, Mich., which is connected by a channel to Lake Michigan. Levels across much of the Great Lakes are abnormally low, causing problems for small harbor towns that rely on boating and water tourism. (John Flesher/AP)

A new study from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finds that water levels in two Great Lakes – Lake Michigan and Lake Huron – have declined to record lows, and that water levels for the other Great Lakes are also well below average.

The Great Lakes account for 90 percent of the country’s surface water reserves. The lakes are at their lowest levels since recording of water levels began in 1918.

Scientists say the declining levels are threatening wildlife and commerce, as well as quality of life for the 25 million people who live in the Great Lakes Basin. They attribute the issue mostly to changes in the climate.

“What do we do? Do we dredge more often?” asked Alan Steinman, director of Annis Resource Water Institute in Muskegon, Mich. “This is how society needs to adapt – not just with lower water levels in the Great Lakes, but also to rising sea levels like we saw in Sandy. This is really the new normal.”

Guest:

  • Alan Steinman, director of Annis Resource Water Institute in Muskegon, Mich.

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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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