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Update on St. Marys River water volume increase

Wednesday, July 31, 2013   by: Staff


Update on Lake Superior outflow: Anglers cautioned of high flows in St. Marys rapids

The International Lake Superior Board of Control, under authority granted to it by the International Joint Commission, has set the Lake Superior outflow to 2980 cubic metres per second (m3/s) for the month of August, effective August 1, 2013.

This amount is 800 m3/s greater than the July outflow.

This outflow is as prescribed by Plan 1977-A.

The August outflow will be released by discharging about 2128 m3/s through the three hydropower plants and passing most of the remaining flow through the control structure at the head of the St. Marys Rapids.

The gate setting of the control structure will be increased to six gates fully open on 1 August.

As a result, the flow and water levels will increase significantly in the St Marys Rapids.

Anglers need to be cautious of the changing flows and water levels in the rapids on 1 August and the unusually high flows and levels in the rapids during August.

Although there will be no change to the setting of Gate #1 which supplies water to the channel north of the Fishery Remedial Dike, with six gates fully open in the main rapids, water will overtop the dike along the north side of the rapids.

This past month the water supply to the Lake Superior basin was well above average while that to the Lakes Michigan-Huron basin was below average.

Currently, the Lake Superior level is about 6 cm below its long-term average beginning-of-August level, and 16 cm above the level recorded a year ago. It is 26 cm above its chart datum level.

This past month the level of Lake Superior rose 14 cm, while on average it rises 4 cm during the month of July.

The level of Lake Superior is expected to fall slightly or remain stable during August.

The level of Lakes Michigan-Huron remained stable this past month, which is typical during July.

The level of Lakes Michigan-Huron is 48 cm below its long-term average beginning-of-August level, and is 6 cm higher than it was a year ago.

Lakes Michigan-Huron is 8 cm above its chart datum level.

The level of Lakes Michigan-Huron is expected to fall slightly or remain stable during August.

The Board continues to monitor conditions both on Lake Superior and downstream, and will advise the International Joint Commission accordingly on those conditions.

Mr. Jaymie Gadal is the Board Member for Canada.

BG Margaret Burcham is the United States Board Member.

For further information please contact Mr. Jacob Bruxer, Alternate Canadian Regulation Representative, International Lake Superior Board of Control, Cornwall, Ontario, by phone at (613) 938-5725 or by e-mail at

Additional information can be found on the Internet at the Board’s homepage: 


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Tender34 7/31/2013 3:20:41 PM Report

Will this cause the salmon to think it's time to run or exactly the opposite with water volumes that mirror springtime? Anyone have any thoughts on that?
clyde705 7/31/2013 4:02:10 PM Report

Most fish run when water temperature is close to what they need it to be for spawning.
Sam C 7/31/2013 5:47:12 PM Report

I agree with clyde... it;s temperature more than flow that gets fish spawning. I've watched Salmon trying to swim up the Credit River when it wasn;t even deep enough for the fish to be fully submerged.
harry dick 7/31/2013 9:17:22 PM Report

why are we raising the out flow of water in Superior when , you, yourself figure the level will drop?
Everyone has been complaining of low water levels for about 10 years. Now that the levels are up, and the levels in lake Huron and Michigan are stable, according to your data, what is the reason for dropping the level of lake Superior?
sitka_archie 7/31/2013 9:40:36 PM Report

Because they can't direct that much water into the hydro dams that superior dumps into. You can't just dump "more water" into a turbine system. They're designed with a maximum capacity. Anymore than the designated cap willcause damage to the units. They have to dump the water through the compensating works to reduce the intake to the dams.
derek 8/1/2013 12:03:11 PM Report

We should care more...

We are continuing to drain Lake Superior non stop with no real solution in site. This is simply looking the other way and ignoring the real problem by many people. Boldly resupplying the lower Lake system by opening 7 gates wide open at the expense of Lake Superior

Water has been down in Michigan since 99

HMMM... Nestle bottles 700, 000 gallons of water a day from lake michigan

Wait a minute plant built and runs in 99

Also nearly 2 billion gallons a day leave Lake Michigan for a single use in the Chicago area and never trickle back down in to Lake.

Dredging in the St. Clair River. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says Chicago’s perpetual diversion of water out of the system via the Chicago River is more than offset by other diversions into the Great Lakes basin from the north. But they concur with researchers who say that further east, the deepening of the St. Clair River accounts for over a foot of permanent loss in Lakes Michigan and Huron. The St. Clair, which connects Lake Huron with Lake St. Clair near Detroit, has been dredged to keep shipping channels open since the mid-1800s. Lakes Erie and Ontario, which receive the flow diverted through the St. Clair, are not facing the same low water crisis.
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