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Great Lakes High Water Levels

A Michigan great lake with high water around a pier
Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy

Great Lakes High Water Levels

The Great Lakes are experiencing the highest water levels since 1986, and storms and wave action are causing erosion and flooding of the shoreline.  Water levels on the Great Lakes are cyclical with periods of low and high water, with each period lasting for several years depending on the amount of precipitation, runoff, and evaporation that occurs. Great Lakes shorelines include bluffs, floodplains, coastal wetlands, sand dunes, and development, and the type of shoreline determines how high water levels will impact property.  Due to the resulting erosion and threat to property that high water levels can cause, property owners are requesting information on permitting and technical resources that are available from the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).


General Information

High Water Level Information for the Great Lakes, EGLE fact sheet

Background Information on Lake Levels in the Great Lakes

Current and forecast Great Lakes water levels, US Army Corps of Engineers

Overview of Great Lakes Water Levels

Living on the Coast: Protecting Investments in Shore Property on the Great Lakes

Great Lakes Shorelines Information for Permit Applicants

Great Lakes High Water Permitting Options and Expectations for Contractors and Applicants

Great Lakes Shoreline Protection Contractors List

Frequently Asked Questions about Shore Protection during Great Lake High Waters

DNR High Water Safety information

Dept. of Insurance and Financial Services - Disaster Preparedness

Inland Lake High Water Levels

Contact the Environmental Assistance Center (EAC) at 800-662-9278 or, if you have questions or need assistance. The EAC is staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Tell the operator that you are calling about shoreline erosion and you will be transferred to a field staff person.  After hours, please leave a message and someone will get back to you the next business day.

Shoreline Protection Permits

Permits are required from both EGLE and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) prior to placement of any shore protection using the EGLE/USACE joint permit application information below.  

Applying for a Permit (Joint Permit Application)

Minor Project Categories for shoreline protection projects that avoid and minimize adverse impacts are available to applicants (for example, MP Category 41 and 49).  Projects that meet these MP categories can be expedited by EGLE, do not require a public notice, and have reduced application fees for the applicant.  EGLE has also revised its procedure for activities not constituting a use in a Critical Dune Area.

Minor Project Categories

Part 353 Activities Not Constituting a Use

EGLE Great Lakes Programs

Additional shoreline protection, permit application resources, and coastal planning information for Great Lakes shorelines can be found on EGLE’s Great Lakes websites listed below.

Great Lakes Shorelands and High Risk Areas

Great Lakes Submerged Lands

Critical Dune Areas

Coastal Zone Management

Resources for NPDES Permit holders, and Others

Bulletin to NPDES Permittees regarding Vulnerability Analyses 1/16/2020
High water elevations can affect or have affected discharges from municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTP)/collection systems, industrial discharges, sewer lines and storm water best management practices (BMP), among others. To prepare for the predicted increasing water levels in 2020, EGLE is asking all permittees to complete a vulnerability analysis as applicable, to minimize potential impacts (link to general guidance document).

Engaging EGLE on Great Lakes Shoreline Erosion (recorded 11/12/2019, 69 min)
Due to higher water levels in the Great Lakes, Michigan’s shoreline communities and residents are experiencing an increase in shoreline erosion. This webinar is an opportunity for local officials to learn more about EGLE’s response to Great Lakes shoreline erosion, the basic rules and processes for obtaining permits for shoreline protection projects, efforts EGLE is taking to expedite permits, and how you and your constituents can communicate and partner most effectively with us. The webinar includes a short presentation followed by time for questions from attendees.


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