What does Michigan’s future look like if we adequately prepare the state’s water resources for climate change? Goodbye to septics and shore-hugging homes. Hello to more diversified crops on Michigan farms.
Only a few small communities in the Great Lakes Basin have sought water diversions. But with climate change, some fear that increasingly parched swaths of the U.S. will seek access to the fresh water that surrounds us.
With climate action on the state and national agenda, critics of Enbridge Line 5 warn that investing in new pipeline infrastructure undermines Michigan’s pathway to carbon neutrality. Experts say it’s not so simple.
For two straight summers, residents of Detroit’s Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood watched water pour into basements and pool in streets, a result of coastal flooding that will become increasingly common throughout the Great Lakes as climate change progresses.
Devastating Midland floods would have been worse were it not for the sponge-like properties of a newly-restored wetland along the Shiawassee River. As climate change brings more intense rainstorms to Michigan, the incident is an example of how wetlands could help mitigate flood threats.
Changing climate threatens to bring more intense storms and worse floods to the Great Lakes region. In Grand Rapids, one park takes neighborhood stormwater runoff and stores it until it returns to the earth.
A significant number of residential septic systems need repair or replacement, but efforts to enact a statewide code have been hampered by the expense and disagreement over what events would trigger an inspection.
Warming waters are hard on some fish, such as walleye, and more favorable to others, such as smallmouth bass. With so many environmental stresses, it’s difficult to gauge the future of individual lakes.
For all climate change has wrought, Michigan and the Great Lakes region — with an abundance of fresh water, warming winters and less fire-prone forests — stand to attract millions of new residents in future decades eager to escape flooded coastal areas and the parched land of the West.