High water erosion causes alarming issues to Delta County homes and land


DELTA COUNTY, Mich. (WJMN) – With 187 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, 191 inland lakes and 1,215 river miles between Delta and Schoolcraft counties, you can see there is a lot of water in the region. With Michigan being at high precipitation rates and water levels steadily rising, these beautiful waters can also cause serious damage to our land and homes.

“There was probably trees and brush that went out at least the length of a football field,” said Rory Mattson, CEO, Delta Conservation District. “When the water was lower a few years ago, the water edge was actually one quarter mile out and now it’s right here.”

Mattson is talking about OB Fuller Campground in Bark River.

“Here we’ve had some pretty good devastation over the last fall and this spring where the Lake Michigan has rose up and just started moving in the campground,” said Mattson. “We’ve lost quite a few sites here.”

Mattson says it’s extremely devastating for areas with sand as the water can easily wash it away and taking the things growing from the ground with. A lot of the brush gets swept into Lake Michigan, never to be seen again or leaves a mess on shore for crews to clean up.

Mattson showed us at Local 3 many places impacted by this including Bark River.

“This year, I didn’t think we were going to have a bad run-off because things broke off really slow,” said Mattson. “We had cold nights, we had some warm days. It melted very slow so we didn’t get the ice jams. But with the ground water being as high as it is from last fall in the last three years that any of the snow that was melting any of the precipitation through rain that we got to spring what ended up happening is, that water had no place to go so it just hit the ground, started to move across the top to surface waters, started to move through the ground, went right to the rivers and there was such a rush of water coming down this year, it just tore our vegetation everywhere. So here again in Fuller Park we have all of these tree jams now on the river. And a lot of people say that’s great for wildlife, it’s great for fish habitat, but the problem we’re going to have next year now if we leave it is that if we do get it to break up where the ice comes down and it has in the past, catches these, it’ll rip these trees and roots right out of the banks, it’ll try to go around them and it’ll really tear up the banks and it could even tear up the road.”

Mattson also showed us homes and properties that are in trouble because these high waters in Escanaba and Stonington.

Depending on a number of factors the action plan to resolve this issue is not the same for everyone, like a homeowner in Stonington who had to act fast. Mattson suggested a wall as the water was quickly eating away at the sand and getting closer and closer to the home.

Other homes nearby are feeling the same impact but not as seriously because their homes are farther away from the water. But if you are experiencing issues, Mattson says don’t wait on it.

“If you wait it really is hard to do,” said Mattson. “Depending on what it took out regulated by the federal and the state, it depends on an elevation called the ordinary high water mark, but it’s also where the water is. So if you wait too long, things that you could have did before maybe even without a permit except for soil and erosion or got a permit from the state or the feds, you may not be able to get now.”

For a more in-depth look at this issue, Mattson will be giving a presentation on the radio on Newstalk 600 AM WCHT Saturday morning (April 25) from 9:00 a.m to noon.

While listening, you can follow along on the presentation under the High Water Erosion Issues link at www.deltacd.org, or click here.

“We’re going to do a two, two and a quarter presentation and then have questions that come in,” said Mattson. “It’s a live show.

Mattson says it’s important to address this now, because it’s impacting a lot of people.

“I’m getting probably 100 calls now a month because people’s basements are leaking, or their crawl spaces are leaking and it’s basically precipitation events of over the last five years,” said Mattson.

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