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High flows expected in St. Mary's rapids

Tuesday, April 15, 2014   by: Staff



The International Lake Superior Board of Control is anticipating a potentially large increase in Lake Superior outflows in the coming months, and higher than normal flows and water levels in the St. Marys Rapids.

Forecasts indicate that expected flows may require multiple gates to be opened in the control structure at the head of the St. Marys Rapids as early as the month of May, with potentially higher flows expected to follow during the summer months.

The Board, under authority granted to it by the International Joint Commission, sets the Lake Superior outflow each month by applying Plan 1977-A, the regulation plan for Lake Superior.

The Plan-prescribed outflow depends on water levels of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan- Huron.

Lake Superior water levels have rebounded considerably over the past year, rising above average in March and reaching their highest level since March 1998.

Lake Michigan-Huron water levels have also increased during the past year, but remain well-below average.

Forecasts of water levels and flows are subject to considerable uncertainty, as they depend on the net supply of water to the lakes and their surrounding drainage basins in the form of precipitation, runoff, and evaporation.

As such, the Board reviews multiple water supply scenarios to forecast water levels and flows that could be expected given a range of possible conditions.

Under near-normal water supply conditions, the Board anticipates needing to open at least five gates fully in June and July, and three gates fully in August.

The significant snowpack that remains in the region or a particularly wet spring would result in above-average water supplies to Lake Superior and continued above-average water levels and flows, such that four gates may be opened as early as May, and six or more gates may be opened in June, July and August.

The Board hopes that this early advisement will help those that may be affected to mitigate or eliminate any adverse impacts that the higher than normal water levels and flows may cause.

The Board will continue to monitor and reassess conditions throughout the coming months, and will advise the International Joint Commission accordingly.

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, Canadian Regulation Representative, International Lake Superior Board of Control, by phone at (613) 938-5862 or by e-mail at

Additional information can be found at the Board’s homepage or on Facebook.


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harry dick 4/15/2014 11:41:05 PM Report

Lets not let too much water out of Superior this year. Who knows , we may have a lower than normal snowfall next winter . If we run too much water this spring and summer , we may get back to much lower water levels again next year. We have to look after ourselves as well as the other great lakes too.
Sam C 4/16/2014 7:36:40 AM Report

harry... the Board f Control is responsible for managing the levels of ALL the lakes, not just Superior.

To hold too much water back to allow Superior to rise would result in lower levels in the lower lakes -- which are already too low.

jowo60 4/16/2014 8:24:39 AM Report

Why wouldn't you allow Lake Superior levels to remain high. That was why the compensating dam was made in the first place.
After the winter we had all the great lakes system should have enough flow.
Maybe the US needs to steal water for the Mid west water system as the rumours suggest.

rcssm69 4/16/2014 9:13:38 AM Report

I find it funny when people actually think that the water in Superior belongs to us!!!
derek 4/16/2014 10:44:18 AM Report

The politicians and the Government are all skirting around the real problem.

I am only pointing out that they will use all Lake Superior water and the problem at the St. Clair River is still there. They are dancing around the money commitment to fix it. How can they forecast how high water is. There is still much ice on Superior. Minister Orazietti and Hayes are quite as mice on this issue! Big surprise

The Government can give millions of our tax dollars to foreign countries but these master minds can't see the the serious problems right here in Canada. Everyone in world values our fresh water but us. Who are the real dummies?
Cel wood 4/16/2014 2:25:39 PM Report

With the excessive rain we had last fall and with the exceptional amount of snow and cold weather we had this winter from the West to the East coast all the Great Lakes should not be low this year.
To continue to let the water go unrestricted through the St. Clair River we will be back to square one. Resulting in a repeat of failed action by the Government to resolve the erosion problem at the St. Clair River.
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