Water levels near ports on the lakes determine how much coal, iron, grain and other cargo can be shipped, Joe Barrett and Caroline Porter of The Wall Street Journal report. "This is very much an industry where inches count," Lake Carriers' Association Vice President Glen Nekvasil said. He told Barrett and Porter that lower lake levels means ships are carrying about 1,200 to 1,500 fewer tons per load, a loss that is very hard to recover.
Low water also highlights the need for more dredging of ports to keep them clear of sediment, the reporters write. The Corps of Engineers has identified at least $200 million worth of dredging needs in the lakes' channels and harbors. (Read more)