Shoreline erosion

Above average precipitation is expected over the Great Lakes from December through February, according to NOAA.
Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

Michigan could see a lot of snow this winter according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which came out with its 2020 U.S. Winter Outlook on Thursday.


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.


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. 


"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.

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.


Today on Stateside, what the worsening erosion of Great Lakes shorelines looks like from a bird’s eye view. Plus, an expected flood of absentee ballots this November has some of Michigan's clerks nervous about timely reporting. We talk to a state senator who says accuracy is more important than speed when it comes to counting votes.