Lake Erie Water Levels Below Average

April 5, 2013 Updated Apr 5, 2013 at 11:28 PM EDT

By WKBW Internet

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April 5, 2013 Updated Apr 5, 2013 at 11:28 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - The forecast for water levels in Great Lakes is that they will be below average throughout the summer, which could have a major impact on boaters and the regional economy.

The low water levels has a major effect on shipping industry in the Great Lakes. The more shallow the shipping channels, the less cargo ships can carry, meaning high transportation costs, and ultimately, higher prices for consumers.

"They will lose 100 tons of capacity for every one inch of water depth that they lose. So if their draft is depleted by an inch.... They will lose 100 tons of carrying capacity each trip," explained Mike Asquith from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo division.

A large amount of raw materials, like iron ore and coal, which are used to make steel and construction materials, are shipped along the Great Lakes.

And aside from being the most efficient way of transport, it is also the most cost effective, costing about $3.6 billion less each year over the next cheapest form of transporting goods.

Water levels in Lakes Michigan and Huron are seeing the biggest impact at about 26 inches below average level.

Lake Erie is about 8 inches below average and Lake Ontario about 6 inches below average.