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Lake Erie is the eleventh largest lake in the world (by surface area), the fourth largest of the Great Lakes in surface area and the smallest by volume. Ninety-five percent of Lake Erie's total inflow of water comes via the Detroit River water from all the "upper lakes" -- Superior, Michigan and Huron -- the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair and numerous tributaries. The rest comes from precipitation. Lake Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes and is especially vulnerable to fluctuating water levels. The lake was gouged out by glacial ice between 1 million and 12,600 years ago.

 

HOW LAKE ERIE GOT ITS NAME

 

The greater part of its southern shore was at one time occupied by the Eries, a tribe of Native Americans from which the lake derived its name. This name is always mentioned by the early French writers as meaning "cat"; Lac du Chat means "Lake of the Cat". Many attribute this reference to the wild cat or panther.

 

GEOLOGICAL

 

It was one of the first Great Lakes to be uncovered during the last retreat of the glacial ice.

 

The oldest rocks from which the Lake Erie basin was carved are about 400 million years old and formed in a tropical ocean-reef environment.

 

Lake Erie and its shoreline are a major source of many minerals. The largest sandstone quarry in the world is located in Amherst, Lorain County, Ohio.  Salt mines in Cuyahoga and Lake Counties extend out under Lake Erie and are an important source of revenue to the State.  Sand, gypsum, and limestone used for construction purposes are found in abundance.  Large reserves of natural gas, over 3 trillion cubic feet, are located under Lake Erie.

 

LENGTH:  241 miles / 388 km
 
BREADTH:  57 miles / 92 km
 
AVERAGE DEPTH:  62 ft. / 19 m.
 
MAXIMUM DEPTH:  210 ft. / 64 m.
 
VOLUME:  116 cubic miles / 484 cubic km.
 
WATER SURFACE AREA:  9,910 sq. miles / 25,700 sq. km.
 
TOTAL DRAINAGE BASIN AREA:  30,140 sq. miles / 78,000 sq. km.
DRAINAGE BASIN AREA BY STATE/PROVINCE:

Indiana: 1300 sq mi; 3300 sq km
Michigan: 5800 sq mi; 15,100 sq km
New York: 1600 sq mi; 4200 sq km
Ohio: 11,700 sq mi; 30,400 sq km
Ontario: 8800 sq mi; 22,800 sq km
Pennsylvania: 500 sq mi; 1400 sq km

SHORELINE LENGTH (including islands):  871 miles / 1,402 km.
 
ELEVATION:  569 ft. / 173 m.
 
OUTLET:  Niagara River and Welland Canal
 
RETENTION/REPLACEMENT TIME:  2.6 years (shortest of the Great Lakes)

THE DRINKING WATER SOURCE ASSESSMENT CREATED BY THE EPA IN DECEMBER OF 2002 CAN BE OBTAINED BY CONTACTING GEORGE GINNIS WATER SUPERINTENDENT 440-392-9565 OR 440-392-2975.