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Government officials discuss how to respond to the Great Lakes' rising water levels

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Federal, state and local officials are looking at ways to respond to ongoing high water levels in the Great Lakes this year.

Jeff Yoakam is with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He says the threat differs depending on where you are in Michigan.

“It’s different on each side of the state, to be honest with you,” says Yoakam. “West side of the state (Lower Peninsula); erosion is a big problem out there. East side of the state… it’s more flooding.”

Rising lake levels this spring and summer are expected to exacerbate existing erosion and flooding problems.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s office is reviewing two requests for assistance from the Corps for dealing with problems with rising lake levels.

The Whitmer administration is proposing adding $70 million in grants for local infrastructure projects to combat the effects of climate change connected to high water levels. The Legislature has yet to weigh in on the proposal.    

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) met with local, state and federal officials to discuss the problem. She also toured different sites in the Bay City area where rising water levels are causing issues.

Stabenow says federal disaster assistance programs are not designed for this kind of problem.

“Because it’s for one time flooding, one time hurricane, one time tornado. We’re in a different situation now,” says Stabenow.

State and national emergency management officials say many communities will face serious issues this year. They also stress it will take many years to fully respond to the problem.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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