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Help for high water problems available

ESCANABA — Delta and Schoolcraft residents who are concerned about high water levels, whether living by the Lake Michigan shore, an inland lake, along rivers and creeks, or concerned about ground water, are encouraged to listen to a presentation Saturday April 25 at 9 a.m. on WCHT (600 AM) Delta County or WTIQ (1490 AM) Schoolcraft County.

The live broadcast will be presented by Delta Conservation District Executive Director Rory Mattson. A copy of the power-point slide show can be found at www.deltacd.org, for people who would like to follow along.

“We’re going to cover ground water, rivers and the lake,” said Mattson. “Neighbors are having water rise in their basements and crawl spaces. We will discuss why we are seeing general high water levels now.”

The presentation will last just over two hours and when it is finished there will be an hour-long question-answer session.

“There are 82 slides on the power-point,” said Mattson. “Streaming will start at 9 a.m.”

Mattson will describe the history of the highs and lows of the water levels, how the wind and runoff into rivers affect water levels, ways to protect your property, and what permits may be needed to do so.

Water levels on the Great Lakes occur in cycles with periods of high and low water tables. According to a chart by the Army Corps of Engineers, high water levels in 1986 took 27 years to hit low water levels in 2013, and it has only taken seven years to go back to all time highs this year. Each cycle may last years, it depends on the amount of precipitation accumulated, runoff and evaporation.

“From September last year through December I had 276 site visits, I’ve been to 64 this year already. I’ll go out anywhere to help people access their situation. Sometimes people just need a place to start, they don’t know what to do and they may not be able to get someone else to their property to look at the problem,” said Mattson. “The DEQ may not be able to visit a property unless they already filed for a permit.”

Mattson has seen many high water erosion scenarios and is able to tell what people should put in the ground to stop the erosion.

“People don’t realize if they put a retaining wall up it can easily become damaged and useless if it is not installed far enough down into the ground. Depending on what should be done, restoration can cost $8,000 to over $200,000,” said Mattson.

He advises landowners to hire a surveyor to determine ordinary high waters, then determine what federal, state and local permits are needed.

On March 12 Sen. Gary Peters announced bipartisan legislation to help landowners on the Great Lakes shoreline address rising water levels. It is called Safeguarding Tomorrow through Ongoing Risk Mitigation, STORM. The STORM Act was introduced in the Senate March 9, and so far that is as far as it has gone.

“I was at Fuller Park the other day and found a sandbag along the lake shore and had no idea where it came from, so I walked along the shore and found where it came from, another county. The high water lifted and carried that sandbag a good distance away from where it was originally placed,” said Mattson.

Saturday’s presentation can also be heard via the following streams — browse to “tunein.com” and enter “WCHT” in the search box, or browse to “rrnsports.com” and click on the live player there. For any additional information call Delta Conservation District 906-553-7700 or Schoolcraft Conservation District at 906-341-8215.

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