Ice jam in lower Great Lakes could delay shipping season

The Detriot Free Press is reporting a ice-clogged St. Clair River that could delay the start of the Great Lakes shipping season:

By AMBER HUNT
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

Slow-moving chunks of ice in the St. Clair River have created dire consequences along miles of the waterway in recent weeks, tearing apart docks, threatening Great Lakes shipping and leaving some wondering whether the start to boating season will be delayed.

“It’s literally like a plug in a bath tub,” U.S. Congresswoman Candice Miller said Sunday as she announced plans for U.S. and Canadian coast guard cutters to begin chomping through the ice today from both directions.

The plug, which begins near Marysville in St. Clair County and continues about nine miles south, is causing unusually high water levels to the north and dangerously low levels south of Harsens Island, Miller said.

It’s the worst ice jam since 1984, where record jams reduced normal river flow by as much as 65%, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Last year, a report by the International Joint Commission, made up of U.S. and Canadian representatives, blamed 1984’s ice jam with causing long-lasting water drops that cost millions in dredging to ensure passage for cargo ships.

That ice jam lasted 24 days and clogged about 20 miles of river, according to the Army Corps. This jam is shorter and could be briefer, but Miller said the potential environmental impact is unclear.

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