high water levels

Water levels on Lakes Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario are all expected to decline, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Lake Superior is expected to peak next month.
Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

Water levels on the Great Lakes might finally start going down.

With the exception of Lake Superior, each of the Great Lakes have likely reached their peak water levels for the year, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.


Joshua Stevens, NASA Earth Observatory

 

If you took a dip in Lake Michigan in early July you might have noticed the water felt pretty nice.

Lake Michigan waves crash onshore at a beach in Frankfort, Michigan. Lakes Michigan and Huron were almost three feet above the June water level average.
Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

Water levels in the Great Lakes continue to remain high. 

Every month this year, Lakes Michigan and Huron have surpassed record-high water levels set in the 1980’s. In June, those lakes were nearly three feet above average. 


Peter Payette

Grand Traverse County residents are having a hard time coping with the Great Lakes’ near record high lake levels.

“We’re seeing unprecedented storms and high, high levels in the lakes and groundwater, and the combination is just causing a lot of issues unfortunately,” said Arthur Krueger, director of municipal utilities for Grand Traverse County.

One of these issues is regular flooding in basements of local homes and businesses. Some desperate residents have turned to illegal solutions.

"Sunset Station" in Arcadia Township has been devestated by high waters from Lake Michigan pounding its shoreline.
Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

Water levels in the Great Lakes are really high right now. Lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie are all breaking records and creating all sorts of problems for communities on their shores.

Two floods, two weeks and too much water

Jun 11, 2020
Dan Wanschura

The second extreme rain event in two weeks has led to yet another sewage spill in the Boardman River in Traverse City.

 

A public health advisory has gone into effect, and the Grand Traverse County Health Department has advised the public to stay out of the water at beaches including Clinch Park, Sunset Park, Bryant Park and the Grand Traverse Senior Center. 

 

Piles of debris sit on shore near the Point Betsie Lighthouse in Frankfort.
Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

As if shoreline erosion wasn’t enough, communities and property owners on Lake Michigan are now dealing with another problem due to record high water levels — trash. Up and down the lake, large amounts of it are washing up on shore.

Employees for Anthony's Outdoor Services build a 400' long seawall in Manistee. Anthony Ganss, the owner, says they've been busy all winter constructing seawalls.
Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

Update 3/25/20, 3:30pm: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, on Monday, March 23, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced temporary requirements “to suspend activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life” through April 13, 2020. Under that order, limited forms of construction are still permissible, including projects necessary “to maintain and improve the safety, sanitation, and essential operations of residences.” A spokesman for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy says whether or not that includes shoreline construction “is dependent on the purpose and necessity of the shoreline work, and is case-specific.” He says contractors, their legal counsel and homeowners need to make that determination and if they are still unsure, contact the Governor’s office for more clarity.

 

At a time when many Michigan companies are slowing down due to the coronavirus pandemic, business is booming for contractors working along Lake Michigan’s shoreline.

 

They’re fighting a different crisis — trying to save people’s homes from extremely high water levels. But with so much demand, there’s little to stop unqualified contractors from jumping in on the action.


Jed Jaworski

Large waves and Lake Michigan’s record high water level are breaking down the barrier that protects the historic Point Betsie Lighthouse in Frankfort.

Key parts of the structure are fractured and falling apart.

A home in Manistee sits dangerously close to an eroding bluff in Manistee.
GARY LANGLEY, FAA CERTIFIED SUAS PILOT / INTERLOCHEN PUBLIC RADIO

Michigan is preparing for more damage that could come from even higher water levels.

On Monday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer met with federal, state and local officials in Lansing for the first Michigan High Water Coordinating Summit.

Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

 

Lake Michigan’s water level is expected to reach a new record high for January, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The lake hasn’t been this high since 1986.

Ron Wilson's summer cottage is dangerously close to falling into Lake Michigan. Wilson wants to lower water levels on Lake Michigan by letting more water out of the Chicago River, and reversing the flow of Long Lac and the Ogoki River in Ontario, Canada.
Dan Wanschura

On a cold and windy afternoon in Manistee, Ron Wilson trudged through snow to check on his shuttered cottage.

 

Not much changed since he was last there — which is good — because just a few feet of land separate the beach house from Lake Michigan.

“We once had a deck out here,” says Wilson, pointing behind the house. “But the storms in mid-October just took out all the beach in front of us.” 


Gary Langley, FAA certified sUAS pilot / Interlochen Public Radio

Lakeshore property owners fighting erosion due to high water levels are getting some help from the state. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy is expediting the permitting process for sandbag use.