Appropriations Sub-Committee to Host Hearing on High Waters Impact for Communities

Posted on January 22, 2020 by Dene Westbrook

The Michigan Municipal League has secured a hearing in the House Appropriation Sub-Committee on Natural Resources and Environmental Quality to highlight the devastating impact of shoreline erosion and high waters on Michigan’s coastal communities.

The hearing, scheduled for Thursday, January 23rd at 10:30 a.m., and located at the Anderson House Office Building in Lansing, is graciously hosted by Rep. and Chairman of the committee, Sue Allor, R- Wolverine, in response to ongoing conversations with several lawmakers in Lansing. Four communities from across the state will be testifying on behalf of the League along with representatives from Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE).

League members are welcome to attend the hearing and may pass along any testimony or images related to high waters damage to the League to be included in the record. The League extends our sincerest thanks to our many MML members that have provided information and images for us to help illustrate the impact of this crisis. Without you, the League’s ability to raise awareness on this critical issue would not have been possible!

Shoreline erosion and high waters have brought unprecedented damage and unexpected mounting costs in the millions of dollars to Michigan’s shoreline communities. Throughout the fall, the League has been working with legislators, the Governor’s Office, EGLE, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Great Lakes Coalition to address the long-term impact of rising water levels, barriers to funding, and the inability to access emergency fund at the state and federal levels.

This fall, the League participated in a tour with Rep. Joe Tate, D-Detroit of the damaged shoreline communities along the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers with Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, and Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, and International Joint Commission for the Great Lakes, Rob Sisson.

In Lansing, the League has engaged lawmakers on the compounding impact of high waters to local communities. Using the images and estimates provided by our members, we’ve illustrated the devastating impact on roadways, bridges, water filtration centers, stormwater utilities, wastewater treatment plants and more.

Based on these conversations, the League has identified two objectives to provide relief to our members:

  • Secure financial assistance for immediately impacted coastal communities. 
  • Define high waters, and shoreline erosion as a declarable emergency, and provide better pathways for communities to address the damages and acquire financial assistance 

Legislators have been open to conversations on both objectives, stating that they are aware of the impact to their constituent communities. Many have assisted in identifying potential sources of funding to provide financial relief to our communities, as well as offered interest in modifying state statues to better address a high waters crisis. Rep. Jack O’Malley, R-Lake Ann, is also working to spearhead a statewide high waters taskforce to bring together local units of government, state agencies and other stakeholders to address ongoing maintenance to Michigan’s shoreline.

Additionally, the following legislation has been introduced to address the high waters crisis and assist local communities and effected homeowners:

  •  SB 714 — Sen. Roger Victory, R-Georgetown Township-: Allows for those in areas at risk from erosion to begin work on the construction of temporary erosion control structures, without a permit and provides for alternative steps to streamline the process.
  • HR 157 – Rep. Joe Tate, D-Detroit: A resolution to memorialize the President and Congress of the United States to increase funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to $475 million per year.
  • HR 214 – Rep. Jim Lilly, R-Park Township: A resolution to call on the Governor to formally request that Ontario cease or limit to the greatest extent possible the redirection of water into the Great Lakes.
  • HB 5309 – Rep. Lilly, R- Park Township: Modifies issuance of soil erosion permit during a state of emergency declared by the governor

The League will provide an update of Thursday’s hearing on Inside 208 this week, and we will continue to monitor and provide any updates as we gather more information.

Herasanna Richards is a legislative associate handling energy, environmental, elections, and external municipal services for the League. She can be reached at [email protected] or 517-908-0309.

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