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Lake Michigan-Huron Water Level Restoration Analysis

An exploratory analysis of options for restoring Lake Michigan-Huron water levels to compensate for the lowering of levels due to episodic dredging and channel enlargement in the St. Clair River over the past 100 years was conducted. The hydraulic impacts of various restoration scenarios were examined. Four previously proposed structural options in the St. Clair River were reviewed and cost estimates were updated. Two relatively new technologies were also assessed. An assessment of positive and negative impacts of each scenario on key sectors in the upper Great Lakes, as well as the impacts in the St. Clair–Detroit River corridor, is also provided. Results revealed a mixture of benefits and costs, with navigation benefitting, shoreline damages increasing, and net hydropower losses. There is a trade-off between the positive ecological effects for the Georgian Bay region, especially its wetlands, and the uniformly negative ecological effects in the St. Clair and Detroit River system.
Restoration of Lake Michigan-Huron Water Levels
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Main Topics
Water Level Restoration
Questions We Asked
Can restoration of Michigan-Huron levels address extremes?
Key Findings
Restoration structures in the St. Clair are technically possible but costly
Restoring Michigan-Huron levels has both benefits and costs
View all 4 key findings
Ecosystem impacts of restoring Michigan-Huron levels would be mixed
Institutional considerations of building new structures would be significant
Remedial measures should not be taken in the St. Clair
Restoration Analysis