Lake Michigan Level Decline

Ice along the shore of Lake Michigan, Chicago, IllinoisThe water level of Lake Michigan has been in a slow and gradual decline over the past several months. The decline is more than would be expected from seasonal fluctuations. On several days in early January, wind conditions displaced lake water such that the level temporarily fell below the January record low water for Lake Michigan set in 1965. The lake remains within inches of setting a new record low. Water level is now more than two feet below the long-term average and about five feet below the record high water of January 1987.

Water levels were a key issue in a presentation given by an ISGS coastal geologist at the Chicago Cultural Center on January 10, 2008. The presentation focused on the history of building park land along the Chicago north lakefront and the need to plan for how low water will impact private property along the northernmost two miles of the Chicago lakefront. The talk was sponsored by Friends of the Parks as part of the Last Four Miles project, which is developing plans and designs for completing lakefront park land along the remaining segments of private (non-riparian) property along the Chicago lakefront.