Nick Assendelft, EGLE Public Information Officer, AssendelftN@Michigan.gov, 517-388-3135
October 30, 2019
With Great Lakes water levels at historic highs, and facing the possibility of further increases, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy today announced additional, significant steps to help Michigan shoreline property owners who are affected by high lake levels that are causing land erosion and threatening property.
For homes or structures that are in danger, EGLE will be expediting permits for shoreline protection. In cases where homes or infrastructure are at risk, permits can be issued in a matter of days. EGLE also will divert resources from other programs to assist property owners, local governments and technical professionals in processing permits; prioritize response activities based on the risk to public health and safety; and find appropriate solutions that protect people and the environment.
“Michigan’s Great Lakes are a vital resource but come with a set of complex challenges, like the significant erosion along the Lake Michigan shoreline caused by record-high water levels,” Gov. Whitmer said. “My administration, along with the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, Department of Natural Resources, and Michigan State Police, is in constant communication coordinating response efforts to the erosion and property damage along the shoreline. Together, we are focused on finding and implementing appropriate solutions that will protect Michiganders and our environment.”
“High water levels will be with us for a while and we know this can cause stressful situations for shorefront property owners,” said Liesl Clark, EGLE director. “The steps we are announcing today will help property owners navigate the permitting process more efficiently and quickly. We cannot control lake levels, but we can offer tools to help Michiganders protect their property while safeguarding our freshwater dunes and other shoreline resources.”
EGLE today launched a new webpage – Michigan.gov/HighWater – where property owners can search for the latest information, find links to helpful topics, begin the permitting process, and search a list of contractors as well as find tips for selecting a contractor who can perform the intended work.
Property owners can direct questions about erosion issues to EGLE’s Environmental Assistance Center at 800-662-9278 (tell the operator you need information about erosion issues) between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, or by email to EGLE-Assist@Michigan.gov.
The shoreline permit process ensures a balance between protecting property and freshwater dunes and shorelines. Excessive or poorly designed shoreline protection structures and materials can increase damage to neighboring properties and disrupt the natural processes that create Michigan’s unique coastal dunes, shorelines, and bluffs. In most cases, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also needs to approve permits for placing materials along the waterline and in the water. EGLE issued 730 shoreline protection permits this past fiscal year, compared to 636 the previous year. This fiscal year’s total is nearly three times the number that were processed five years ago, when 264 were issued.
With a process that normally takes 60-90 days, it’s imperative property owners plan ahead if they think they may face an issue with erosion. If property is not yet affected by high water levels, but may be in the future, check with a local contractor first to find out when they may be available to perform the proposed work. Then, begin the permitting process with EGLE and the Army Corps of Engineers. Possible solutions that property owners may consider include permanent shoreline armoring, temporary erosion protection, or even moving homes or other structures away from the line of erosion.
EGLE urges caution when evaluating waterfront property for damage from waves and water. Waves may have scoured dirt and rocks from below the land above it. You could be in danger if walking to the land’s edge to document damage or from collapsing earth from above.
Go to Michigan.gov/MiWaters to begin the permitting process and related links.
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