As Great Lakes plummet, towns try to save harbors - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

As Great Lakes plummet, towns try to save harbors

By JOHN FLESHER
AP Environmental Writer

ONEKAMA, Mich. (AP) - Water levels on the Great Lakes are falling to worrisome lows because of drought and rising temperatures, causing problems in the shipping industry and in small communities with recreational harbors.

The water is at near-record lows on Lakes Michigan and Huron, while Erie, Ontario and Superior are below their historical averages. Cargo freighters have been forced to lighten loads, marinas have become too shallow for pleasure boats and weeds are sprouting on exposed bottomlands, chasing away swimmers and sunbathers.

Congress used to provide money to dredge channels and repair other infrastructure for small communities. But those special appropriations called "earmarks" have fallen out of favor.

That leaves small towns scrambling to find ways to attract recreational traffic such as fishing charters, sailing yachts and motorboats.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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