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Spring's heavy rainfall could help the Great Lakes

6:15 PM, Apr 23, 2013   |    comments
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Courtesy National Geographic

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WZZM) -- WZZM 13 is taking a closer look at whether the recent flooding is helping lakeshore communities that were suffering from low water levels. On Tuesday, scientists discussed the water levels on the Great Lakes and the impact of April storms.

Grand Haven's Harbor Island is one area that has struggled with low water levels.

"The biggest complaints I get is our lack of water at our boat launch," says Dan Vivian, Grand Haven's Facilities and Grounds Manager.

City officials say the recent flooding is hurting the boating industry and even the benefit of additional water won't last. "It brings debris down, the currents are real strong," says Vivian."

City officials estimate that an additional two and a half feet of water were added to the Grand River near Harbor Island. Even with the increased water levels, the docks are still sitting on land and there are no boats around. City officials say that's because flooding also makes it difficult to dredge or remove sand.

"We can't do that with the amount of water coming down, there's just too much current for them to get the equipment in," says Vivian.

Scientists do expect the heavy rain will help Lake Michigan bounce back from historic low water levels, but that could also be short term.

"It's hard to say whether or not that high level will persist, whether conditions next year will lead to further rise, or whether water levels will go down," says Drew Gronewold, a hydrologist with the NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.

"What we want is the steady rains, maybe one or two small rain events per week throughout the summer," says Gronewold.

Until dredging is complete, city officials say boaters enter the water at their own risk. If the current slows down, city officials hope to start dredging in the next week.

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