The Great Lakes’ water levels are higher than they’ve ever been in recorded history.
Government statistics for July show all of the waterways were at record highs, accelerating the risk of coastline erosion and flooding to low-lying areas.
Experts say the warming climate and damaging natural infrastructure like wetlands are to blame.
“Now, when the big storms hit, the water goes very quickly into the Great Lakes,” Blair Feltmate, a professor and head of Waterloo’s Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation, told CTV News.
Lake Erie and Lake Ontario saw the highest levels that have ever been recorded at any time of the year. While Lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron began July with record highs for this time of year, they have seen higher beginning-of-month water levels during other months in the past.
“The extremes in weather that we’re experiencing now are going to get more extreme going forward,” said Feltmate. “We can expect a higher probability of flooding going forward.”
He added that in order to “adjust to this evolving normal” we will need to replant trees on the lakes’ shorelines and set up diversion channels. He said residents living in these low-lying areas will need to elevate their window wells and install backup pumps for when power is out.
The lakes’ water levels were first recorded in 1918.