High water levels have caused adverse effects for many property owners who live along lakes around the state, and in response, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy is expediting permits for work to stem further damage.
In situations where critical infrastructure or public heath are in jeopardy, permits can be processed and completed in just days. That quick decision recently prompted one homeowner to thank Marquette District Office staff for their swift action.
After recent storms on Lake Superior, Greg Borzick reached out to Ryan McCone and Sean Soucy of EGLE's Water Resources Division in Marquette for helping to save Borzick's home.
The storms caused severe erosion of the Lake Superior shoreline in Marquette, including the area in front of Borzick's home.
"I contacted both of you over the weekend and by Monday morning I'd received a call from Ryan and an email from Sean that explained the permit application process," Borzick said in an email. "On Tuesday afternoon I submitted the permit application and on Wednesday morning I received the necessary permit to begin work. Because of your timely action, we have a contractor ready to begin stabilizing the shoreline tomorrow.
Contractors used an excavator over three days to install stone riprap across 65 linear feet at the base of a bluff where the edge is only a few feet behind his garage.
"Watching land disappear in front of our lake house was stressful," Borzick wrote. "Your personal, professional, and prompt response helped immensely."
EGLE can approve a completed permit in just days compared to the usual timeframe of up to three months. Staff is prioritizing applications where erosion caused by record or near-record high water levels is threatening infrastructure or public health.
Since Oct. 1, about 70% of expedited applications have been issued within three days of when they are completed. Since Nov. 1, two-thirds of permits have been issued within seven days of when the application was first submitted.
To assure the fastest service possible, property owners and contactors are reminded to respond in a timely and thorough manner to inquiries from EGLE staff after submitting their applications. Seventy percent of shoreline applications are now being issued within three days of when all required information was received.
Besides expediting permits, EGLE has also added staff to take shoreline erosion calls through the Environmental Assistance Center -- 800-662-9278 -- between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and answer inquiries at EGLE-Assist@Michigan.gov.
A new website -- Michigan.gov/HighWater -- has also gone live, providing property owners the latest information, links to helpful topics, a list of contractors, and link to the MiWaters permitting page.
EGLE is also working with other state departments and private sector stakeholders to fully assess the potential impact of even higher water levels, which are predicted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to rise in 2020.