GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) - While much of Northeast Wisconsin got rain Tuesday, Lake Michigan and the Bay of Green Bay are nearing record lows.
The shipping industry is feeling an impact.
Ships cannot get into some local ports, including Manitowoc, full of cargo.
They are dropping it off in Green Bay because the channel is deeper.
Local 5 learned those light loads could also lighten your wallet.
"For every inch of water that is not available for our vessels they have to lighten their load by 100 tons" explains Brown County Port & Solid Waste Director Dean Haen.
With Lake Michigan down around 16 inches, ships are carrying 10 percent less cargo on average.
"The end result is prices will go up. It will cost more to transport that product. "Ideally if you can bring in full vessels that's when your prices will be the lowest" says Michael Vizer, Terminal Manager for St Marys Cement.
To fill orders with light loads companies like St. Marys have to bring in more ships.
At $2,000 an hour it is not cheap.
"When you are carrying low value cargo like coal, limestone, cement, those aren't expensive like steel. That additional cost of time and shipments, really effects the cost per unit" says Haen.
Mother nature isn't solely to blame.
Dredging on the Saint Croix River has dropped Lake Michigan an estimated two feet.
The water supply is also being tapped for drinking water.
"When you have communities pulling water not alone to the Milwaukee area, but to Chicago, anywhere throughout the great lakes, anytime you bring that lake level down that's going to affect shipping, dredging and other low lying areas" says Vizer.
The winter months will be critical in keeping Green Bay's $88 million annual shipping industry strong.
According to Vizer "We need a lot of snow, we need a lot of cold weather for ice. We do lose moisture through evaporation in the winter if we don't have ice cover".
For ships across the Great Lakes to carry normal loads the water needs to rise about 16 inches.
Unfortunately forecasters expect water levels will continue to decrease.