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Town hall discussions, statewide Action Team planned in wake of high water summit

Chart on wall at High Water Summit

Local, state, and federal officials identified challenges and planned next steps in dealing with widespread high water impacts across the state during the Michigan High Water Coordinating Summit hosted last week by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).

Those in attendance at the summit, convened by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, agreed to form the Michigan High Water Action Team as a way to continue the conversation as well as meet on a regular basis to coordinate responses to the impact of rising water levels.

"High water levels affect every corner of the state, from Great Lakes shorelines to inland lakes to rivers and canals," said Liesl Clark, EGLE director. "There is no short-term end in sight, which means homeowners and communities will feel the impacts for quite some time. The Michigan High Water Action Team will make sure we continue to have robust discussions at all levels of government to help all Michiganders."

Town hall meetings will also be scheduled around the state this spring to continue the conversation with Michigan's residents. Details will be available as the events are scheduled.

Some key statistics from presentation by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Weather Service:

  • It's been the wettest September through December period on record.
  • The state has gone from record low water levels to record high in record time in the past six years, meaning lake levels have changed faster than ever before.
  • There's been no other 5-year period in recorded history that has seen more precipitation than the current 5-year period, according to NWS.

The impact is also being felt far from the Great Lakes shorelines. Inland lakes and streams are at levels not seen previously. The ground throughout the state is very saturated, so it doesn’t take much more than a regular storm to have an impact on roads, parks, wastewater treatment plants, septic systems, wells, private property, and much more.

"I called for the Michigan High Water Coordinating Summit to ensure our state agencies lead the way with a highly coordinated and cooperative response to high water impacts," Gov. Whitmer said. "With our local and federal partners, our team will do everything we can with the resources at our disposal to help Michigan families and communities living through extraordinarily difficult circumstances."

State departments and agencies participating in the Michigan High Water Coordinating Summit included the Office of the Governor; EGLE; Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development; Department of Health and Human Services; Department of Natural Resources; Department of Technology, Management and Budget; MDOT; Department of Treasury; Michigan Economic Development Corporation; Michigan Public Service Commission; and Michigan State Police..

Federal agencies included the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Geological Survey, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration / NWS, and the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, and Keweenaw Bay Indian Community also participated.

Groups representing local units of government included the Michigan Association of Counties, Michigan Association of County Drain Commissioners, Michigan Association for Local Public Health, Michigan Association of Planning, Michigan County Road Association, Michigan Emergency Managers Association, Michigan Municipal League, and Michigan Townships Association.

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