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Dropping Lake Michigan Level Hits Homes, Boats

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Lake Michigan. (istockphoto)

Lake Michigan. (istockphoto)

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LELAND, Mich. (WWJ/AP) - Drought conditions are contributing to a continued drop in the level of Lake Michigan, and operators of harbors and docks in the northwestern Lower Peninsula say it’s causing hazards and hassles for residents and boaters.

Lake Michigan water levels are down 11 inches from 2011, and record low levels could be ahead if the drought persists.

“I don’t think it’s rained here since the third of July — that’s the real issue,” said Russell Dzuba, harbor master at the Leland Marina, near Traverse City.  “You know, we’re just in a drought situation and we’re losing water to evaporation. No ice cover to prevent evaporation in the dry months of February and January … just this prolonged drought.”

Those affected by the dropping water levels include lakefront property owners on Grand Traverse Bay, as well as people who make their living on the water.

Commercial fisherman Joel Petersen told the Traverse City Record-Eagle that Leland Harbor’s south breakwall is deteriorating from low levels, and boaters must avoid hitting bottom on the Leland River.

Peterson says the water level forces him to carry fewer nets, cutting into the size of his catches.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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