Dec 30 2007
Low water in both Green Bay and the Fox River, apparently caused by a combination of long-and short-term natural effects, could end up costing the local economy.
Lakes Michigan and Huron are almost at record lows, and the other Great Lakes are down, too.
The Fox River may not be affected by those low lake levels but certainly has been affected by the dry conditions that have contributed to those levels, said Dave Foster of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which controls area dams.
Typically, the Fox would be higher than normal this time of year as the Army Corps of Engineers does its seasonal drawdown of Lake Winnebago, but drought has affected water levels throughout most of Wisconsin, and that likely is contributing to low water in the upper Fox. Recent high winds may also be contributors. The winds can cause a seiche effect (pronounced “saysh”) — a shifting of water mass that lingers even after the winds die down.
The Green Bay area has about 3 inches below normal precipitation, and areas north and south of there are down ever further.
“For every inch of water missing — and we’re down 22 to 24 inches — that 1 inch equals 100 tons that can’t be put on a ship,” Brown County Port Director Dean Haen said. “So ships are carrying only 15,000 to 16,000 tons, when they used to carry from 18,000 to 20,000.