A new Mowat Centre study conducted for the Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR) finds that if water levels remain low on the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River they will have a negative economic impact on the region that could reach $18 billion by 2050.
Following nearly three decades of higher than historic average water levels throughout the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence (GLSL) basin, water levels fell dramatically across the region in 1997-8. During the period between 1997-8 and 2012-3, for example, water levels in Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron were substantially below historic averages.
In January 2013, Lake Michigan-Huron reached its lowest levels since the United States and Canada began coordinated measuring and tracking of water levels in 1918.
Towns, cities, and regions that rely more heavily on the shipping industry, on recreational boating and fishing activities or seasonal cottagers, and on hydroelectric generation, are the most vulnerable. For example:
– Jurisdictions relying on hydroelectric generation from the Niagara River, the Welland Canal, and Lake Ontario shores could face $951M through 2030 and $2.83B through 2050 in costs to replace lost hydroelectric production;
– Residential property owners in Ontario municipalities adjacent to the shores of Lake Huron could see property value losses of $403M through 2030 and $612M through 2050; those on the Ontario shores of Lake Erie could see losses of $340M through 2030;
– Lake Erie harbours could see $292M in added dredging and maintenance costs through 2030; Lake Michigan harbours could see $142M in similar added costs through 2030;
– Lake Huron marinas could experience $23M through 2030 and $69M through 2050, and Lake Michigan marinas could experience $18M through 2030 and $46M through 2050, in added dredging and maintenance costs;
– Iron ore shippers and producers, who have a strong presence around Lake Superior, could face losses to shipping capacity estimated at $220M through 2030 and $465M through 2050;
– Coal shippers and producers in the region could face losses to shipping capacity estimated at $190M through 2030 and $373M through 2050.
For the complete study click here.
Source: mowatcentre, June 27, 2014