Enbridge, Michigan Tech to monitor water at Straits of Mackinac
St. Ignace — A company with oil pipelines under the Straits of Mackinac is working with researchers at Michigan Technological University to improve the monitoring of water and weather conditions, officials announced Wednesday.
Enbridge Energy Partners LP said it is sponsoring efforts by the school’s Great Lakes Research Center to integrate another monitoring buoy into the Upper Great Lakes Observing System. Information collected on weather, waves and water flow will be publicly available.
In a statement, Canada-based Enbridge and Michigan Tech said previously there have been limited real-time measurements in the environmentally and economically important section of the Great Lakes.
“We will now be able to verify the predictions of the very complex flows through the Straits of Mackinac with real-time data from the buoy,” said Guy Meadows, director of the Great Lakes Research Center. “It will also enable us to verify our new numerical hydrodynamic model of the combined Lakes Michigan and Huron.”
Environmentalists have raised concerns about the pipelines at the Straits. Enbridge, however, says they’re safe. The water monitoring is in addition to monitoring and inspection of the pipelines, said Dave Hoffman, senior manager of research, development and innovation at Enbridge Pipelines.
The buoy, which is being assembled at the Great Lakes Research Center in Houghton, is expected to be deployed this month west of the Mackinac Bridge on the Upper Peninsula side of the Straits, where the water is about 100 feet deep.
Commercial freighters, the U.S. Coast Guard, fishing boats, ferries and private boats all use the Straits, located between Michigan’s Upper and Lower peninsulas where lakes Michigan and Huron meet.
Enbridge has previously worked with Michigan Tech and the Great Lakes Research Center to conduct inspections of the pipelines, the company said.
The 20-inch pipes below the Straits transport nearly 23 million gallons of oil a day as part of a 1,900-mile network that originates in North Dakota near the Canadian border. In 2010, an Enbridge pipeline in southwestern Michigan released more than 800,000 gallons of oil into a river system.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.