Officials to hold town halls addressing Michigan's high water levels

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Posted at 12:46 PM, Feb 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-11 16:08:35-05

LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — State and federal officials gathered Monday in Lansing for the first Michigan High Water Coordinating Summit to discuss resources addressing Michigan's near-record high water levels, which are threatening public health and safety.

RELATED: Great Lakes water levels are higher than this time last year

“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. Gretchen 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.”

At the summit, it was announced that town hall meetings will take place across the state during the spring in an effort to inform residents about the risks of high-water levels and how the state plans to respond to the issue now that Michigan's water levels are the highest they've been in more than two decades.

The Michigan High Water Action Team was formed, which is a multi-agency consortium that, according to a news release, will collaborate on:

  • Identify available assets that can be marshalled in response to high water incidents.
  • Coordinate communications across agencies and levels of government to ensure residents receive information in a timely, accurate, and consistent fashion.

Officials say as levels continue to rise an additional 12 inches or more during the spring, it could break 210-year historic records.

The high water negatively impacts the state and potentially puts residents in danger. It has already caused millions of dollars in damage to private property, public infrastructure and state parks. The dangerously high water levels are also impacting community water systems, which poses health concerns. High water levels also can be damaging to Michigan's food and agriculture industry.

“High water levels affect every corner of the state, from Great Lakes shorelines to inland lakes to rivers and canals,” said Liesl Clark, director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). “We heard today that there is no short-term end in sight, which means homeowners and communities will be feeling 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.”