Water quality on Lake Huron
To find out about water quality along the southeast shore of Lake Huron visit the Healthy Lake Huron – Clean Water, Clean Beaches Partnership website:
For information on water quality monitoring of Lake Huron, in Ausable Bayfield watersheds, please visit:
Water levels on Lake Huron
Lake Huron water levels are of interest to property owners along or near the shoreline, to people who visit Lake Huron, and to people who rely on Lake Huron for economic reasons and as a source of drinking water.
The impacts of high water levels include erosion and unstable bluffs.
How can you find out more about water levels?
There are several sources of national and local information related to high water levels and their impacts.
Canada has a newsletter that provides a monthly update, on Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River water levels, LEVELnews, at this link:
Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) issues Shoreline Conditions Statements, to local municipalities, when warranted. These statements are issued when weather forecasts over Lake Huron suggest a potential for high waves reaching the shoreline and resulting in potential coastal flooding and erosion issues. These messages, in addition to flood messages, are also posted on the abca.ca website at this link:
The Shoreline Conditions Statements are also posted on Ausable Bayfield Conservation's social media channels (Facebook and Twitter):
Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority has resources, (including the Shoreline Slope Stability Risks and Hazards Fact Sheet for Property Owners, by Terraprobe Inc.) on its website.
Download the fact sheet now (large PDF file):
In addition to LEVELnews (a Canadian newsletter that provides a monthly update) on Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River water levels), Environment and Climate Change Canada also has a web page with links to a number of official websites containing Great Lakes water level and related data:
The conservation authority, and its partners in the Healthy Lake Huron – Clean Water, Clean Beaches Partnership, are adding materials – this summer and autumn – related to water levels; water level impacts; and best practices residents can consider. These resources are to include a new fact sheet about what vegetation to plant along the shoreline.
Ausable Bayfield Conservation wants to help the public become aware of, and to navigate, the different sources of information related to lake levels; their impacts; and best practices.
“The high lake levels are a concern to us and to property owners and we want to do what we can to connect people to current information from the relevant authorities and to helpful information to deal with the impacts of high water levels,” said Geoffrey Cade, ABCA Water and Planning Manager.
GRAPH: Summary of monthly average water levels, record lows and record highs in summer months, June-August.
Lake Huron sets monthly records for high lake levels
Issued: August 2020
Lake Huron has not reached the record-high levels of October 1986 but it has reached monthly records in 2020. In 2020, Lake Huron broke the all-time record for the month of July. It has already broken the all-time record for the month of June and the month of May.
Water levels have been this high before but the impacts of current high levels, such as more erosion and less bluff stability, mean that people want lake levels go down. “We all hope that the 1986 record is not exceeded,” said Daniel King, Regulations Coordinator with Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA). “We hope lake levels trend downward so we don’t have increased impacts on existing development.”
Download graph of summary of monthly average water levels, record lows and record highs in summer months, June-August:
- Summary of monthly average water levels, record lows and record highs in summer months, June-August (Medium-sized 100 KB PDF)
Canadian data suggest there may be a seasonal drop in autumn lake levels. A July 2 forecast, from National Hydrological Services, indicates it is unlikely Lake Huron will break the all-time water level record in 2020 (it was still outside the 95 per cent confidence level in the forecast).
This year (2020), Lake Huron reached its highest water level, on record, for the month of July. The highest lake level for the month was 177.45 metres (or 582.18 feet). Lake Huron was 10 centimetres above its record value for the month of May. Environment and Climate Change Canada’s LEVELnews publication reported, in their June 2020 report, “... (all) the Great Lakes were above average during May 2020, with both Lakes Michigan-Huron and Erie exceeding their record high monthly level for a fourth month in a row.”
Going forward, Lake Huron’s water level may surpass or tie its monthly mean record high levels until August and, according to forecasts, be only 5.08 cm (2 inches) below record highs in September.
Lake Huron water levels reached their highest mark almost three and a half decades ago when lakes Huron and Michigan reached 177.50 metres or 582.35 feet above sea level. That was the highest mark for a monthly average water level since record-keeping in 1918. Now, in 2020, we are just below that mark. Lake Huron is currently reaching its seasonal high and is projected to decline by 2.5 cm by August.
Lake Michigan-Huron is recognized as the largest lake in the world by surface area. Lakes Michigan and Huron are connected through the deep Straits of Mackinac. Thus, they are considered to function as one and have the same water levels. Water levels in the lake are dependent predominantly on precipitation, runoff, and evaporation. In terms of changes by season, during the year, higher levels typically occur in late spring and early summer from spring runoff and increased rainfall. During autumn and winter months water levels usually decline as cold, dry air moves over the warm lakes, which causes high rates of evaporation. The larger the difference in temperature between the air and water, the greater the evaporation.
Lake Huron’s water level has gone up and down and up again. After reaching a record high in 1986, the lake later reached a record low, in January of 2013, of 175.57 metres (576.02 feet). Now we’re back at almost all-time high levels. This year (2020), Lake Huron reached its highest water level, on record, for the month of July. The highest lake level for the month was 177.45 metres (or 582.18 feet).
How can you find out more about water levels? In addition to LEVELnews (a Canadian newsletter that provides a monthly update on Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River water levels), Environment and Climate Change Canada also has a web page with links to a number of official websites containing Great Lakes water level and related data:
Fact sheets for property owners
Ausable Bayfield Conservation and the Healthy Lake Huron partnership are sharing some more materials on the topic of water levels and water level impacts and fact sheets with practical and positive actions property owners can take. These fact sheets include bluff and shoreline stability (PDF) and fact sheets about adding vegetation. Visit healthylakehuron.ca and abca.ca to learn more.
Download the fact sheets now:
- Guidelines for Lake Huron Bluff Access – 1.1 MB – Large PDF file
- Guidelines for Lake Huron Bluff Vegetation – 1.1 MB – Large PDF file
- Guidelines for Lake Huron Dune Vegetation – 1.3 MB – Large PDF file
- Shoreline Slope Stability Risks and Hazards Fact Sheet for Property Owners – Terraprobe Inc.
– 1 MB – Large PDF file
- Information for landowners and contractors proposing shoreline protection works – 500 KB (Medium-sized) PDF file
- Checklist for Applications for Shore Protection – 200 KB (Mediums-zied) PDF file.
Visit the the Healthy Lake Huron – Clean Water, Clean Beaches Partnership website to learn more: