Bulletin No.: 06/2000

Date (Y-M-D): 2000-04-18

Subject: Advice on Water Levels in the Great Lakes System, and Testing of Steering Gear

Environment Canada reports that the Great Lakes are experiencing an indefinite period of low water levels. Mariners should exercise caution throughout the entire system, especially during periods of strong winds when water levels in certain areas could fall even further.

Mariners are advised to be aware and keep themselves informed of the water levels in their areas of operation. Special regard should be had for the effects of shallow water on the draft, trim and maneuverability of vessels (squat) and especially so when encountering other vessels in narrow or confined waters.

Following recent incidents involving steering gear problems, Mariners are also reminded of their obligation to verify before departing from a dock, harbour or any other place, that their vessels are in all respects ready for the intended voyage. Mariners are to ensure that all functional and operational tests of machinery and equipment, particularly steering gear, have been conducted and are satisfactory.

In addition to their normal sources for warnings and information, Mariners can refer to the additional sources listed below, for more information on water levels in their area of operation.

A) Canadian Hydrographic Service
Automated, Voice-Announcing Great Lakes Water Level Gauges

To obtain:

  • Present water level relative to Chart Datum, and;
  • The high and low recordings during the past 12 hours for that location.

Lake Superior

  • Thunder Bay 807-344-3141
  • Rossport 807-824-2250
  • Michipicoten 705-949-1886
  • Gros Cap 705-779-2052

St. Mary's River

  • Sault Ste. Marie (above) 705-949-2066
  • Sault Ste. Marie (below) 705-254-7989

Lake Ontario

  • Port Weller 905-646-9568
  • Burlington 905-544-5610
  • Toronto 416-868-6026
  • Kingston 613-544-9264
  • Cobourg 905-372-6214
  • Port Colborne 905-835-2501

Lake Huron / Georgian Bay

  • Thessalon 705-842-2215
  • Little Current 705-368-3695
  • Parry Sound 705-746-6544
  • Collingwood 705-445-8737

Lake Erie

  • Bar Point 519-736-7488
  • Kingsville 519-733-4417
  • Erieau 519-676-1915
  • Port Stanley 519-782-3866
  • Port Dover 519-583-2259
  • Tobermory 519-596-2085
  • Goderich 519-524-8050

St. Clair River

  • Point Edward 519-344-0263
  • Port Lambton 519-677-4092

St. Lawrence River

  • Brockville 613-345-0095
  • Iroquois (Above) 613-652-4426
  • Iroquois (Below) 613-652-4839
  • Morrisburg 613-543-3361
  • Cornwall 613-930-9373
  • Summerstown 613-931-2089

Lake St. Clair

  • Belle River 519-728-2882

Detroit River

  • Amherstburg 519-736-4357
  • (Toll Free: 1-877-247-5465 to reach the Canadian Hydrographic Service.)

B) Sailing Directions

CEN 300 - General Information, Great Lakes (For more information on the Great Lakes and water levels.)

C) Canadian Coast Guard - ( D.F.O. )

Water Level Information for Deep Draft Vessels in Commercial Ship Channels

(Starting 1st week of May, 2000) for:

Detroit and St. Clair Rivers

St. Lawrence River


Continuous Marine Broadcasts ( CMB ) - English - ( NAVTEX & VHF Radio)

Prescott MCTS Centre maintains three separate English continuous marine broadcasts.


D) United States Web Sites

The following N.O.A.A. and U.S. Geological websites may be used for accessing water level information.



US Geological Society Web Sites for specific States.






Keywords:                                  Questions concerning this bulletin should be addressed to:

1. Great Lakes
2. Low Water levels
3. Maneuverability
Antony Kasprzak
Transport Canada
Marine Safety
Tower C, Place de Ville
11th Floor, 330 Sparks Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N8

To add or change your address, contact us at: marinesafety@tc.gc.ca

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