As surging Great Lakes threaten Michigan, homeowners beg Canada for help

SLIDESHOW: Lake Michigan is 3 feet higher than its long-term average, creating huge erosion problems and wiping away beaches such as this one in Saugatuck in southwest Michigan. (Bridge photo by Anthony Lanzilote)

SLIDESHOW: It used to take Schuyler Suydam 20 minutes to haul his catamaran to the waters near his home in Saugatuck. Now, it’s nearly engulfed by Lake Michigan because of rising waters. (Bridge photo by Anthony Lanzilote)

SLIDESHOW: Lakes Michigan and Huron endured more than a decade of low waters until 2017, when they radically shot up. For years, scientists believed climate change would lower lake waters. Now, climatologists feel the waters could become more volatile and less easy to predict. (Bridge photo by Anthony Lanzilote)

SLIDESHOW: The high bluffs around Saugatuck in southwest Michigan have been battered by erosion, wiping away stairs and causing some property owners to move their homes. (Bridge photo by Anthony Lanzilote)

SLIDESHOW: Ric Curtis, from left, Schuyler Suydam and Don Olendorf are among the shorefront property owners in southwest Michigan petitioning Ontario to temporarily halt hydropower diversions that increase water levels. They gathered recently to discuss the issue at Olendorf’s cottage of more than 60 years. (Bridge photo by Anthony Lanzilote)

SLIDESHOW: Erosion caused by high lake levels has closed roads along Lake Michigan in Allegan County. (Bridge photo by Anthony Lanzilote)

SLIDESHOW: Contractors are busy in southwest Michigan rebuilding sea walls to protect the onslaught of Lake Michigan. (Bridge photo by Anthony Lanzilote)

SLIDESHOW: Erosion is not only eating away beaches and cliffs in southwest Michigan, it’s erasing public beach access. Parks near Lake Michigan have closed because of high waters. (Bridge photo by Anthony Lanzilote)

SAUGATUCK – Water always wins, and Lake Michigan is ravaging Schuyler Suydam’s home of more than 60 years.

Surging waters have erased his beach, swallowing more than 100 feet in six years. December winds pushed waves past a giant seawall built to protect his home, lapping at a catamaran that once took 20 minutes to haul to the lake.

This year, nearby parks and roads in this resort town in west Michigan have closed because of nearly record-high waters in Lake Michigan, and the city’s fire department has repeatedly pumped water from a downtown condominium complex parking lot to prevent tenants from being subsumed.

“The prevailing feeling is we are all a bunch of rich people if we live on the water, and we should all know better,” said Suydam, a retired commercial pilot who inherited his impressive home on a bluff. “But the fact is, there are people who benefit from high waters and could help.”

This map, produced by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, shows the flow of water in the Great Lakes basin. North of Lake Superior, Lake Nipigon and the Ogoki River are dammed to flow more water into the system, which is eventually turned into hydropower at Niagara Falls. (Courtesy photo of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

He’s referring to Ontario. More than 800 miles to the north, the province owns dams that release 42,000 gallons of water a second into Lake Superior. Known as the Long Lac and Ogoki diversions, the dams are part of Ontario’s vast hydropower system and, every day, dump the equivalent of two medium-size rivers such as the Kalamazoo and Muskegon rivers into the Great Lakes.

As historically high waters threaten property owners and municipalities along Michigan’s 3,288 miles of shoreline, a movement is brewing to pressure Ontario to temporarily halt the dams until the lakes recede. 

The dams are the only diversions of water into the Great Lakes –  and they’re at the center of emerging, emotional debate about how human intervention creates winners and losers as waters rise and fall, as they have wildly in recent years.  

The diversions have raised water levels of Lakes Huron and Michigan 4.3 inches since their construction in the 1940s. That’s a pittance since the lakes are now 3 feet above long-term averages. But with lakes forecast next month to be 11 inches higher than in January 2019, property owners say every bit helps.

“God affects the lakes in a matter of feet. Humans affect them in inches, but when you are dealing with these extremes, inches make a big difference,” said Roger Gauthier, a retired hydrologist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

More than 100 feet of beach has vanished from the property of Schuyler Suydam in the past few years, and Lake Michigan is threatening to engulf boats, docks and other equipment. (Bridge photo by Anthony Lanzilote)

Gauthier lives in Cheboygan in a house whose bluff has eroded by 30 feet in recent years. He leads a property owners group, Restore Our Water International. In November, the group joined homeowners along Ontario’s Georgian Bay in a petition to the International Joint Commission (IJC), a binational group that resolves boundary water disputes, to take steps to declare a crisis and initiate steps to pause the diversions. A third property owner group also has made the same request.

Lyndsay Miller, spokeswoman for Ontario Power Generation, which operates the dams, told Bridge in an email that the discharges “are a relatively small contributor to the water level on the Great Lakes. (Halting the dams would lower the lakes 2-3 inches over two years, according to an International Joint Commission report.)

“The impact of ceasing the diversion would not likely even be noticed by a property owner,” Miller wrote. 

“Water management is a complex discipline. There are often difficult decisions with competing interests which need to be considered and balanced. In a critical year [of high waters] the objective is often to do the most good with the options available but that does not mean everyone will be satisfied.”

 

‘Pound your fist’

Michigan property owners also are lobbying Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other state and federal lawmakers to ratchet up public pressure on Ontario to halt the diversions.

“I love Gretchen Whitmer. All we’re asking from her is to pound her fist on a few times on the table and write a letter to Ontario,” said Don Olendorf, a semi-retired schools lobbyist who lives in Saugatuck Township off Lake Michigan.

 

 

Asked by Bridge about the diversions, Whitmer’s staff released a statement saying “we are monitoring water levels throughout the Great Lakes in conjunction with our counterparts at the International Joint Commission.” 

“Gov. Whitmer will continue to encourage communication and cooperation within the region on issues impacting the Great Lakes Basin to make sure that Michigan’s voice is heard,” her deputy press secretary, Bobby Leddy, wrote in an email.

Whitmer is also weighing a request from state lawmakers for an emergency declaration to release funds for shoreline protections along Lake Michigan communities. 

That would give homeowners access to state resources to address erosion and clear the way for a federal emergency declaration to provide access to loans and tax relief for repairs that typically aren’t covered by insurance.

Michigan has instituted other steps, including expediting permits for seawall repair, said Nick Assendelft, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. Since Oct. 1, the state has issued 316 permits; 70 percent of which were processed within three days, rather than the typical two months, he said.

The state also is working with communities to map threats to sewers, power lines, bridges and other infrastructure if water continues to rise, Assendelft said. 

Likewise, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers since May has advised leaders of hard-hit counties Allegan, Bay, Macomb, Monroe, Muskegon, Ottawa, St. Clair and Wayne, as well as the City of Detroit, said Krystle Walker, a Detroit-based emergency management specialist for the agency.

‘Getting hammered’

Homeowners need more, said Olendorf, who is on the board of the 200-member Lake Michigan Shore Association property group. 

“We are getting hammered pretty good,” he said. “Those of us who have the resources to protect ourselves can, but those who don’t are screwed.”

Saugatuck Township resident Don Olendorf is among the property owners who are calling on Ontario to stop hydropower dams that dump millions of gallons of water into the Great Lakes basin. He’s facing a $150,000 bill to rebuild a seawall on the property his family has owned since the 1950s. (Bridge photo by Anthony Lazilote)

Olendorf faces a $150,000 bill to build up his seawall along his 90 feet of beach frontage. He can afford it, living on a stately road where homes sell for $1.5 million to $2 million. Nearby homes are owned by industrialists and  lawyers investing more than $1 million in seawall repairs. Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has a home a few miles up the road.

But water is an equal-opportunity destroyer, and Olendorf said the narrative of the foolishly wealthy building dream homes too close to the lakes ignores the extraordinary weather conditions of recent years.  

After record high waters in the 1980s, most communities passed ordinances requiring new homes to be built farther from the lakes, some 200 feet. It turns out that wasn’t enough, now that waters are at or approaching record highs after nearly 20 years of low waters.

Municipalities are reeling from losses because of damaged boat ramps, roads and bridges, said Dean Kapenga, an Allegan County commissioner who represents Saugatuck Township. 

The damage extends statewide. In Detroit, some homeowners along the Detroit River are still cleaning up from July floods. In the Upper Peninsula, roads to the Porcupine Mountains are threatened by erosion. Since last fall, 13 homeowners along Lake Michigan have applied to the state to move houses away from eroding shorelines, state records show.

“I was born and raised here. I ain’t rich,” said Ric Curtis of Ganges Township near Saugatuck, who is on the board of the Great Lakes Coalition for Shoreline Preservation property group.

Boat docks have vanished along Lake Michigan as waters rise and property owners are facing big bills to reinforce seawalls to try to keep the waters at bay. (Bridge photo by Anthony Lanzilote)

The group, which represents more than 1,000 homeowners, last month sent a separate letter to the IJC to asking to halt the diversion of water into the Great Lakes. 

Human intervention

It’s the latest salvo in a century-long debate over the human impact on water levels that began in 1900, when Chicago reversed the direction of the Chicago River to pull water out of Lake Michigan. 

The Canadian dams went up 40 years later to produce energy during World War II. Now, they’re part of a network of dams and 66 hydro stations that provides 25 percent of the power to Ontario, a province of 14.5 million residents. 

The Chicago diversions –  which lower lakes by 2.4 inches –  were blamed when waters were historically low during the past 20 years. Now that waters are high, it's tempting to seek relief by stopping the Canadian diversions, but that won't help most property owners,  said Peter Annin, a professor at Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin.

“When humans build infrastructure by a lake, they want it to be the same, but on the Great Lakes, that’s the bargain you’re in for: Water levels vary,” said Annin, who is author of the book “The Great Lakes Water Wars.

“We’re talking about inches here. What would really bring relief to property owners in Michigan and Wisconsin is feet.”

Another controversial diversion, for the Foxconn Technology Group in Wisconsin, takes as much as 7 million gallons per day out of Lake Michigan. The Ontario diversions, in contrast, put 3.6 billion more gallons per day into lakes, which overall contain 6 quadrillion gallons (enough to cover the United States under 9 feet of water.)

 

Miller, of the Ontario Power Generation, said she couldn’t calculate how much the Long Lac and Ogoki diversions contribute to the province’s overall power generation. 

“The Long Lac and Ogoki diversions have been in place for decades. The local environment and economies have evolved over more than 50 years with this particular flow regime in mind,” she wrote in an email. 

Among other things, an IJC report warned that ceasing the dams would cause massive flooding in Albany River basin lands in northern Ontario that are populated by indigenous people. 

The Great Lakes shipping industry, which creates some $60 billion in annual economic activity, also generally prefers higher waters since they allow freighters to carry more. 

“We recommend the governments come to grips with the impacts of [halting] these diversions before taking any action,” Jeff Kart, a consultant for the joint commission, told Bridge.

The binational group, per an agreement known as Plan 2012, tries to balance the mean levels of the Great Lakes but only has nominal power. It can advise, write reports and issue recommendations, but the ultimate decision on halting dams would rest with Ontario.

By design, the IJC moves slowly and takes years to study issues. By then, the Great Lakes probably would have already receded, Annin said.

Or maybe not.

Since record-keeping began in 1860, water levels have always fluctuated over five- to 10-year periods, depending on precipitation, ice and other factors. With climate change, though, unpredictability could now be the rule, said Gauthier, the retired hydrologist. 

From 2000 to 2013, Lakes Michigan and Huron were in a record drought, then sprung back to extreme highs by 2017.

Until recent years, scientists believed climate change would lower the lakes as rising temperatures evaporated waters. Now, some believe volatility is the new normal.

By mid-century, most scientists believe rising temperatures will “take a toll on the lakes” and lead to a longer period of low levels, said Dana Infante, a hydrology professor at Michigan State University.

Despite the uncertainties, governments should do what they can now, Gauthier said. 

“If you cause the lakes to be artificially high,” he said, “you have an obligation to fix it.”

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Comments

Bob Johnson
Tue, 12/17/2019 - 7:55am

If you walk along the beach in many places you'll see old stairways and decking from a decade or two ago long buried that have been uncovered by the high waters. That evidence should be enough to remind people that the lake level goes up and the lake level goes down. It'll go back down soon enough and then people will start rebuilding their structures right back up to the edge of the beach only to be washed out the next time it goes up.

George
Tue, 12/17/2019 - 9:14am

Well perhaps the high water levels will raise the historic high water mark of the Great Lakes so that the general public can walk the beaches again once the lakes recede. Hard to have pity or empathy for property owners who "beached" about folks like myself that wished to walk along "their" beaches. Beach owners have property rights. Now they have water rights, too.

Paul Jordan
Tue, 12/17/2019 - 10:12am

It is absolutely true that water level fluctuations are usual for the Great Lakes. What is NOT true anymore is that the old patterns will hold true in the future, or are even holding true now.
The basic science underlying global climate change has been known since the end of the 19th century. Atmospheric conditions only change slowly due to its sheer volume. Increases in so-called "greenhouse gases" over the past centuries has decreased the atmosphere's radiation of heat into space which results in increasingly accumulated retention of heat in the atmosphere and oceans. This in turn results in changed weather patterns so that what has been USUAL (and predictable) in the past may well not predict what will happen in the future.
What is probable is that the air that flows to the Great Lakes region will be more humid so that, when it meets the air flowing down from the arctic, more precipitation (and perhaps more violent storms) will occur in our area.
The past is no longer a predictor of the future.

Barry Visel
Tue, 12/17/2019 - 11:18am

Except, how do you explain that waters were higher in 1918?

duane
Tue, 12/17/2019 - 9:49pm

How do you explain that the Lakes rise faster when the Great Lakes freeze over [colder winters] and prevent evaporation?

duane
Wed, 12/18/2019 - 12:26pm

EB,
Your charts seem to suggest the there is a noticeable rise in Lake Michigan water level following a significant icing over of the Lake. That would seem to validate the idea that winter evaporation is a credible factor in the rise of Lake levels, recent colder winters rather than warming winters has added several inches to the current lake front problems.

Barry Visel
Wed, 12/18/2019 - 12:37pm

The 1918 date came from the link contained in the article. If that link provided wrong information Bridge didn’t correct it.

middle of the mit
Sat, 12/28/2019 - 10:30pm

Uhhh could that be that because the ice prevents evaporation?

Susan
Sat, 12/21/2019 - 8:57am

Perhaps this will all settle down once the glaciers have all melted! ;)

Jonah212
Tue, 12/17/2019 - 10:33am

If you build homes and roads on any waterway or nearby waterway, expect the unexpected and don't expect the State to bail you out because you built on the edge of a waterway.

David Wolf
Tue, 12/17/2019 - 10:51am

While all of the Great Lakes may fluctuate within certain ranges, Lakes Michigan/Huron and The Georgian Bay have, by far, the greatest normal range - roughly 6 feet (2 m). They also constitute the largest of only three Great Lakes (Michigan, Huron and Erie) that don't have their levels controlled by regulating outflows.

Considering that Lakes Michigan/Huron and The Georgian Bay have twice the shoreline (5,463 miles) of Lake Superior (2,725 miles), nearly seven times the shoreline of Lake Erie (799 miles), and over eight times the shoreline of Lake Ontario (634 miles), one would conclude that it should deserve significant consideration when it comes to managing the extremes in water levels. This has clearly not happened.

While the significant natural range of Lakes Michigan/Huron and The Georgian Bay might suggest that extremes should be expected, and they may not seem to be that big of a deal, it misses the most important point: At either end of extreme water levels - whether high or low - that last inch or so has a much greater impact than a fluctuation of even two or three feet toward the middle of that range!

This is true for low water levels as well as high water levels. The shipping industry, boaters, marina operators, municipalities, shoreline properties, and natural features (wetlands, fish habitat, etc.) are negatively impacted by extremely-low water levels. These same entities are negatively impacted by extremely-high water levels, although the shipping industry is generally unscathed by higher extremes, unless, of course, their harbor facilities are impacted.

Lakes Michigan/Huron and The Georgian Bay certainly deserve serious consideration in the overall plans and programs of both nations that affect flow out from and in to all of the Great Lakes. To date, the IJC and the governments of both nations have failed to step up to the plate. It's time for action to enact coordinated policies, programs, structures, etc., to proactively trim both high- and low-water extremes in Lakes Michigan/Huron and The Georgian Bay as those extremes begin to approach.

Barry Visel
Tue, 12/17/2019 - 11:29am

So, if the dams in Ontario were removed the Albany River would flood...but isn’t that the natural flow? Flooding is a natural phenomenon...building where floods occur is not.

Apparently it’s been documented that lake waters were higher than today back in 1918. If we know that, why has any development been allowed in those areas (roads, bridges, etc.).

In 1967, Ian McHarg wrote “Design With Nature”, intended, in part, to promote development in coordination with the environment. I think his lessons have fallen on deaf ears.

John Q. Public
Tue, 12/17/2019 - 1:44pm

They certainly have in Lansing. There is a former golf course at the Lansing/East Lansing border on the banks of a shallow, narrow river which regularly floods. That flood-plain golf course always acted as a large sponge and controlled minor flooding. It is now being developed with a large part of it to be paved over. Given the history of the area, it's a certain bet that at some point it will suffer from massive flooding. The drain commissioner and the developers demonstrate almost unthinkable arrogance (except in the case of the developers, it's a well-established and long-demonstrated character trait) in believing their man-made flood control system will hold Mother Nature in check. State and local politicians are just as bad for approving tax incentives and permits for this easily foreseeable future disaster.

middle of the mit
Sat, 12/28/2019 - 10:46pm

Who in the State approves these permits? My bet? The wealthy allow the wealthy to allow what ever they want approved and if that approval ends up needing State Taxpayer money to subsidize it? They will get it.

The wealthy who build their homes in flood prone areas in Michigan should be subject to the same thing that Hurricane prone areas should get. NOTHING. If that is where you want your home and you are able to afford a home in such lavish areas....Deal with the consequences.

If you are unwilling to do so...........DON'T.

There should be NO FEDERAL FLOOD INSURANCE AFTER THE FIRST FLOOD YOU INCUR. Isn't that what you would call PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY?

Why should TAXPAYERS pay to keep rebuilding your lavish home year after year after year after year after year after year after year....you get the point don't you? It is literally a conservative talking point.........until a conservative NEEDS TAXPAYER MONEY BECAUSE PRIVATE INSURANCE WON'T COVER THEIR HOME!

Eat it!

Dermot Putnam
Tue, 12/17/2019 - 2:54pm

I serve on the same lake shore association board as Don Oelendorf. This past summer Roger Gauthier generously provided an extremely informative and disturbing presentation to our group about the status of the Great Lakes. As Roger says for this article, God affects the levels in feet, whatever we do translates to inches, maybe. He took pains to say that climate change is the culprit. The lake is rising with no end in sight. From my home I witness storms that are much more frequent and more powerful than they were just 10 years ago.

I also live across the road from Mr. Suydam and the damage to his shoreline there is dramatic, as the photos demonstrate. Of course I think the state of Michigan should release funding to help deserving home owners (means tested). However, this is the emergency by emergency bandaid approach that would be helpful in the short term. But it would also be nice if the various lakeshore association boards would push our state and national legislators to in turn push our federal government to officially recognize climate science and climate change, not deny it. This would release funds for continuous research, planning and remediation to help hard hit lake shore towns from Traverse City to Saugatuck to New Buffalo and across the whole Great Lakes region.

Living in the area and across the street from Mr Suydam, I find it ironic that many lake shore home owners want local and state funds to help with their bluff erosion when in fact over the last 15 years they have spent much of their time and energy limiting the public’s access to the beaches and shore line for walking, swimming, etc. Why should the public supply them with tax dollars so that only they can enjoy their “private” beaches? It’s a fair question. As a matter of fact, Mr. Suydam led the way to help a neighbor construct a fence across a road end to prevent the public from using a nearby beach. This was just a few hundred feet down the road from the house Mr. Suydam had inherited. The beach had been public since the 1940s or earlier. He erected the fence after his neighbor and good friend, another lake shore owner, filed multiple law suits against the Ganges Township to give up the beach. The township literally didn’t have the money to keep up with the deep lake shore pockets. Apparently there was lots of private money to file suits to limit public access...now they want public tax dollars to help with their private lakeshore.

So here is the ultimate irony...why should the public coffers of the state be used to help lake shore land owners who have fought tooth and nail to limit access to the shore line. For whose benefit? I can see public funds being used to help towns and communities whose economies are tied to the Great Lakes and tourism. Maybe the homeowners wanting public funds should also commit to improving and giving back public access rather than choking it off.

middle of the mit
Thu, 12/19/2019 - 12:53am

[[So here is the ultimate irony...why should the public coffers of the state be used to help lake shore land owners who have fought tooth and nail to limit access to the shore line. For whose benefit? I can see public funds being used to help towns and communities whose economies are tied to the Great Lakes and tourism. Maybe the homeowners wanting public funds should also commit to improving and giving back public access rather than choking it off.}

This is something I have been waiting to hear for years on end. Thank you for espousing it, in terms I would have.

I used to live on what was called a "backwater lot". In simpler terms, I lived on a lot that had water rights, but the front lotters didn't like that we were able to go to any beachfront and swim. Some of them didn't mind, and actually allowed us kids to swim off their docks because we had befriended their children. Now those kids don't want to return the favor.

That is what is going on up here in the hinterlands. We are also having a problem with weekend rentals. Those with money are renting their weekend homes as rentals. And they are interrupting what those of us up here consider solitude. There are laws being made so that you down there can not make up here what you have down there. And lawmakers from the State are telling us locals, WE CAN'T DO THAT! Guess what? WE ARE!

You come up for solitude and then bring all of your ATV'S. UTV's and side by sides and think that our neighborhoods will allow what you don't down there. And we will....to a certain extent.

The problem is, those retired people up here? They came from down there. And the people that live up here? Don't want what you have down there. Yet you keep trying to bring it up here, yet you don't to pay the people up here to do the work that you need done.

That is why most of the people up here leave when they graduate. There will only be so many jobs in our area. And the less "semi-skilled jobs" are paid? The less of those jobs and employees you are going to get.

The reason prices are going up and licensees are going up ? Look to who is controll of your Government. Cons want you to loosen restrictions on teachers, building , EPA and FDA.

Yet they want corporations to be able to poison anyone that purchases one of those products, as long as the corporation isn't held liable for actually poisoning you. That sounds right and proper.....doesn't it?

https://energynews.us/2019/01/30/midwest/environmental-groups-utilities-...

https://www.michiganadvance.com/2019/11/19/watchdog-agency-21-michigan-s...

Yet they put a MUCH HIGHER price on a Medical or recreational license to sell cannabis. WHY? Why does the party of less regulation do something like that?

MY bet? Because they are the epitome of hypocrites!

Push back. And then tell me where I am wrong, knowing FULL WELL that I have Bridge and many other sources to show you how conservatives have gaslighted you into allowing them to be the ONLY ONES THAT PROFIT from LEGAL CANNABIS. Or anyother organization they are promoting.

Jesus MAY BE the reason for the Season, BUT.....can you show me where HE IS in the Season?

Republicons are ALL ABOUT THE MONEY, and that is the REASON FOR THE SEASON!

Santa beat Jesus a loooooong time ago. Well before I was born.

Think about it..........

Fair
Sun, 12/22/2019 - 7:15pm

"So here is the ultimate irony...why should the public coffers of the state be used to help lake shore land owners who have fought tooth and nail to limit access to the shore line. For whose benefit? I can see public funds being used to help towns and communities whose economies are tied to the Great Lakes and tourism. Maybe the homeowners wanting public funds should also commit to improving and giving back public access rather than choking it off." I have a place on Lake Huron and totally agree, always have. The public should have the right to walk on the beaches of all the Great Lakes. I'm always amazed by how few people walk the beaches of our state's greatest treasure. If you go to the beaches, you'll see people around July 4, but not really packed. The rest of the year, it's usually sparse handfuls. Maybe it's because of the previous lawsuits from greedy homeowners or maybe it's because of just soooooooooo much shoreline in our beautiful state. Beachwalkers never bother me. The shorelines belong to all of us and we should all protect them in times like this. I know I don't speak for everyone, but I care about everyone.

middle of the mit
Sat, 12/28/2019 - 11:48pm

I don't live on the Great Lakes. I just live on one of the many inland lakes. And we have this problem with lake shore homeowners associations.

And it has only been in the last 20 years that they have started being actually belligerent.

And I can't understand why, to the best of my ability. I get it to a certain point. I too would like to live on a private lake with NO public access, but I don't and neither do they. The only people that have a problem with that is them.

But then they want the public to forgo the road ends. OK. NO snowplowing the road ends. Let's get rid of the pavement to your driveways. That was paid with taxpayer dollars. Make road ends private drives and the private owners are responsible for the upkeep.

""""But WE PAY TAXES!"""

AND YOU LIVE ON A PUBLIC LAKE!

It happens on our rivers up here too. People who live Near the rivers will ask you what you are doing when you are fishing a bridge. Tell them to get bent! It is NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS. And if they continue? Bring your dog next time. See if they question you then.

The reason you see less people is because the "owners of America" are pushing their non existent "rights" on other people and if the public doesn't push back? WE lose.

So walk the beaches! Fish the rivers! They are public water ways. Treat them as such!

Carry the law with you, and then shove it down their law abiding throats!

It's all about open carry..........isn't it?

Are you afraid of me?

I am just carrying a fishing pole. And wearing waders!

JSK
Sat, 02/22/2020 - 10:21am

Good points. But this erosion does need to be curtailed, who pays for it is another question. Many comments here go to who gets the blame and it seems like neighborhood fighting of using the beach to walk and shutting down access to that beach. Many questions.... In the Reply column, it would be nice to have...... likes, dislikes, happy faces and sad faces. Just a suggestion.

EB
Tue, 12/17/2019 - 5:09pm

2013, record lows; 2019, record highs: a 7 ft change on Huron/Michigan. That's only a 6 year span; there's no recorded precedent for this large a fluctuation in this short a time span.

You have to wonder what 2020 will bring and beyond: another 7 foot rise in just 6 years?

Warmer temps, particularly warmer winter temps increase evaporation, about 7% more evaporation for each 1 degree increase in temperature. That warmer air can both move moisture away from the Great Lakes and deliver it to the Great Lakes. It's a crap shoot. Predictions don't mean as much as they once did because what we're experiencing is not climate change, it's climate chaos.

rork
Wed, 12/18/2019 - 8:23am

In that one link (" 4.3 inches") I saw the estimate that alterations to the St. Clair and Detroit rivers cause Lake Michigan-Huron to be about 15.8 inches lower. Be grateful.
The reason Albany might be considered to flood now is that those diversions have been in place for about 80 years - the river has changed, and it is an important highway for people up there. Their houses may be in spots that would flood.
I did not see anybody offering to pay Ontario for the loss of electricity either. (Or to ask Chicago to remove a bit more.)
Niagara river dam is not the only spot where that water makes electricity - I know the dam on the Nipigon River benefits from the increased flow. PS: Fishing north of Lake Superior sucks - do not bother going.
Suggestions that we should control the height of Michigan-Huron did not say how, or what it would cost - it might not be worth it. Maybe it is better to think that if you build infrastructure in places that flood, or on shifting dunes, it is you that get to pay for the insurance or damage.

Designated Cons...
Wed, 12/18/2019 - 10:46am

Blaming Canada for the fact that you built or own a home on a foredune (or more likely bulldozed the foredune for a better lake view) of a historically very dynamic Great Lakes shoreline is like blaming the liquor store who sold the beer for your girlfriend's unintended pregnancy.

marc del mariani
Thu, 12/19/2019 - 9:12am

Those are not the remains of boat docks on Lake Michigan. No one puts boat docks on this lake. Those are pilings/ remnants of groins from breakwalls built to reduce erosion. Further, the contention that we have had cycles is true but these record high waters have taken 100 year old trees thus showing that this is either an extraordinarily long cycle or a trend not a cycle. Having lived on the lake over 40 years and near it for 70 I have noted that the erosion cycle is generally not up and down but up, stagnant then up again. We had the highest year of precipitation in 110 years last year. That and the two years of polar vortex episodes have reduced evaporation along with record rain and snow.

Richard Murray
Thu, 12/19/2019 - 12:25pm

I was glad to see climate change mentioned as a contributor to the variability, but a little disappointed that some of those calling for action thought fist pounding by Michigan's governor would help. If the new normal is variability, the governor is going to wear our her arm.

Jeff
Thu, 12/19/2019 - 7:11pm

Nestle should just relocate their bottling operations to the diversions... 2 problems solved. ;-)

Aaron
Tue, 12/24/2019 - 11:27am

Why use tax payers dollars to help these people there the one's that decided to build that close to the lake shore sorry for there lose make sure your insurance is paid up and next time don't build next to a great lake. what you going to do if the lake come up another 6 feet and Canada dams cutting back discharge won't do a damn thing we are in a high water period for the great lakes and don't believe all the Army Corp of Engineers say look what happened of the western rivers

Michele Marone
Mon, 12/30/2019 - 8:57am

Please understand. Many of the homes at risk are not grand mansions on a bluff.
Many, like those in the Au Sable region, are smaller than many people's garages or oversized sheds. They are old and simple, and flooding, deteriorating , or being lost into the lake. This is the only home these families have. Please have compassion for your fellow Michiganders, simply because they are your neighbor in crisis, not because of their worth or worthiness.

Linda
Tue, 01/14/2020 - 3:49pm

Thank you thank you I don't know what's wrong with these people not all people that live on the lake are millionaires,unbelievable.What about the people that busted there ass all there lives to buy a little piece of property on the water,to enjoy there golden years so stop hating and yes some one should step in and help and as far as the comment about the asphalt drive ways nobody paid for my drive way know ur facts before making a stupid comment, and I have no problem with people walking the beach .

Denis
Wed, 01/01/2020 - 9:45am

There is no point in denying that climate change is already happening now, perhaps someone does not like it, or someone is hiding from it, but it is enough to raise not much information from different sources https://allatra.tv/en/video/climate-the-future-is-now , and it will be clear that this is happening all over the planet and not only with water, earth, fire, anomalies, all this is the reality of today, the question is what to do with it and how to continue to be people? The answers are on Allatra TV!

Jeff Schaeffer
Sat, 02/22/2020 - 10:35am

The arguments going back and forth are sucking the State into yet another classic debacle of public funds being used to save both public and private development that never should have been there in the first place. There is not enough money in State coffers to armor the Lake Michigan shoreline adequately, and that is like running to the hardware store for yet another case of duct tape to wrap yet another layer on the plumbing leak. There are thirty layers already, but let's spend more money for another one. The key is to turn off the water and replace the broken pipe. Instead, spend the money on improving coastal resilience. This a complicated thing in that there are dozens of strategies for hundreds of situations, but there are also scientists and resource managers all over the place who know exactly what to do if only people would listen to them. Then end result might take years, and likely take the form of a buffer zone on the shoreline where lake levels could vary with fewer consequences to humans, and fish and wildlife production could be enhanced. And perhaps public access could be enhanced. A model of what this might look like can be seen in John McPhee's book "Encounters With The Archdruid" in the chapter on Hilton Head Island. Not the exact approach that would be needed everywhere in the GL, but the concept is laid out beautifully. The downside is that resiliance is complicated because there is no panacea or single action that can move the needle immediately. But to use a bad analogy, if you want to lose weight you can buy the latest diet food delivered to your door for quick results, or you can buy a pair of walking shoes and take the time for a trip around the block after work. One is faster, but the other produces the long-term outcome.

Jim Olson
Tue, 05/05/2020 - 12:30pm

While the IJC may be correct that stopping the inflow from Ogaki and Long Lac dams won't solve the devastating effects of water levels rising above all-time previous highs, in the short term the shutoff of their combined inflow could make a difference, even if a few inches. This could at certain times of the year, given seasonal cycles help, and bring water levels within the all time high in 1986. While that too was a devastating era for property owners, it has become part of the reality of the living on the Great Lakes. The new reality is that incremental levels from more intense and frequent precipitation foreseeable future arent going away. It should be noted that the IJC has changed the course of the flow in and out of Lake Superior in the past, so, there is precedent to do so now. Last summer, For Love Water.org (FLOW) proposed to the IJC an emergency task force to combine water level modeling with state-of-the-art weather forecasting modeling for improved decision-making within the public trust framework that applies to the waters of the Great Lakes. This would provide the critical information and set of principles, many of which are recognized in the Treaty of 1909 and public trust doctrine for short-term and longer-term actions. In the short-term, it may support the management of the drain-cocks at Ogaki and Long Lac by the IJC. In the long-term, it will help establish a resilient and adaptive approach to face the reality that the bluffs and shorelines on the Great Lake have been changing for thousands of years and more. Expert hydrologists, geologists, and social scientists no very well the shorelines have and will continue to recede during high water. This reality will enable riparian homeowners, lake and river shore communities, and the public to adapt and build-in the necessary resiliency: moving structures, finding the new shorelines, wetlands, and floodplains, siting and rebuilding public infrastructure, implementing and designing land use planning and zoning at the local and state level that conform to the reality of water-- a central current in our lives and livelihoods.