They are a big part of our life, and for some, a source of income.
"This is the lowest I have seen the lake was last summer with the drought," says Vaughn Nickell of Simonton Lake in Elkhart County, "It's incredible."
Vaughn has lived on Simonton Lake for more than 15 years. He's also the president of the lake association. He said during last summer's drought, living on the lake was a nightmare for some neighbors.
"We had homeowners that had trouble bringing their boats to the piers. They would have to walk them in, and in some cases, people were unable to get their boat off the lift."
Heavy winter snows and spring rains this year helped recharge Simonton Lake as well as other area inland lakes. In fact, many lakes around the area are dealing with flooding thanks to the heavy precipitation we've seen this spring.
"I know there are some people having water problems. Typically, when the lake is above our legal lake level, we see standing water in yards and we hear about problems with water in the basement," said Vaughn.
While the major fluctuation in water levels for smaller lakes can change seasonally, it's a whole different story for Lake Michigan.
"Recently, we have seen much higher than normal evaporation. That's the biggest reason lake levels reached record lows in late 2012 and early 2013 because of increased evaporation," said Keith Kompoltowicz, a hydrologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, "It's a cycle the lake goes through."
He says the recent rains have helped, but the big lake is just that... too big for just one event.
"To get levels back to normal, we need consecutive seasons of increased snowfall in the winter, large snow pack developing followed by increased spring rains. We did see that this year, but levels are so far below average, it's going to take more than one season of that to get levels back to average."
Unlike our smaller lakes, Lake Michigan relies on heavy snow pack during the winter months to recharge the water level. Its main source of water input is from western and northern Michigan along with eastern Wisconsin. This past winter's snow in these areas did help bring the lake levels up some, but there is still a long way to go.
"Even with a significant seasonal rise this year, we will still be looking at water levels around 2 feet below their long-term average. There will be significant impacts remaining to those who need to access certain marinas and harbors."