NEW BUFFALO — The New Buffalo Shoreline Alliance (NBSA) provided this update on Feb. 11: Near record high water level continues to cause problems all along the Michigan coastline. Though the primary problem with the loss of beach in New Buffalo is the federal breakwater which has caused the loss of sand, high water levels does not help.
The NBSA has been working with other concerned organizations, the Great Lake Coalition, to address this issue. The organization that is responsible for lake levels is the International Joint Commission (https://www.ijc.org/en). The NBSA has expressed our concerns with the high lake levels to the IJC and suggested actions the IJC should take to address this issue. We are pleased to report the IJC affiliate that controls water flows recently increased outflows to the maximum rate that still allows for safe navigation.
Water is now being drained from Lake Ontario at a rate matched only once before, during the flooding of 2017. However, lake levels are predicted to remain a problem through 2020. State officials fear that the waters could rise another foot in 2020 if rainy weather comes anywhere near the deluges that hit the state last year.
The NBSA anticipates the Corps will have the Section 111 study complete in two months. The first phase will determine if there is a federal interest, and if so, then they move on to phase two.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is putting together its Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) for 2020. Part of that act is to reauthorize a total of $2.125 billion over five years for EPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), the primary Federal investment program that seeks to restore the ecological health of and protect the quality of water in the Great Lakes. The NBSA, with our governmental affairs group in Washington, will be working to secure funds for the New Buffalo Shoreline.
On the political front we are getting great support from State Senator (Kim) LaSata. She has already been successful changing some permitting and logistics issues with EGLE. She is working on, what could be called game changing, State requirements related to the coastline.
State Representative Brad Paquette has also worked hard on our behalf. He was recently selected to chair the legislative committee investigating, and looking for solutions, to the States erosion problem.
The NBSA thanks the continued hard work of County Commissioner Ezra Scott and New Buffalo Township Supervisor Michelle Heit, both of whom accompanied the NBSA on our trip to Washington, for their continued work addressing the erosion crisis. Congressman Upton also has been engaged in asking the Corps to solve this issue. Senators Stabenow and Peters committed to write letters of support for specific requests for funding for New Buffalo but instead wrote a letter to the Corps asking them to have adequate funding for the Great Lakes.
The NBSA wrote the Governor back in April of 2019 and identified steps the State should focus on. We heard back from the Governor in January of this year. In her letter she only spoke about all her accomplishments her first year in office, but none of the items in our letter. She did, however, include a phone number to call if we needed help. We are asking all NBSA member to call her office and ask that she provide leadership and funding to solve the New Buffalo erosion problem. Her number is 517-335-7858.
The NBSA budget for 2020 is $100,000. As previously communicated, if the Corps finds there is a federal interest in the Section 111 study, we will have to match phase two of that study which will be an additional $100,000. Since funding is one of our critical components, we are looking for ideas that generate continual funding. If you have suggestions, please share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.