Ships run aground as Great Lakes’ waters drop

Several large vessels have run aground on Michigan’s Saginaw River this shipping season, caught in shallow waters a few miles from Lake Huron.

The river port is as shallow as 13 feet in a passage that is supposed to be 22 feet deep, a sign of low water levels in North America’s five Great Lakes — Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario.

Water levels declined in 1998 and have remained low, forcing ships to take on lighter loads and sparking concern about shorelines and wetlands in the Great Lakes, the world’s largest supply of freshwater and a major commercial shipping route for Canada and the United States. Iron ore and grain are among the biggest cargoes shipped on the lakes.