Motorists navigate the high waters along South River Road in  Harrison Township July 1. Lake levels are not expected to increase in July, according to officials.

Motorists navigate the high waters along South River Road in Harrison Township July 1. Lake levels are not expected to increase in July, according to officials.

Photo by Julie Snyder


Officials predict no July increase in local lake levels

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published July 5, 2019

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HARRISON TOWNSHIP — Lake levels rose throughout the month of June, but there may be some relief as officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project zero increase through July.

According to the latest update from the Army Corps of Engineers, released on June 28, water levels remain high across the Great Lakes, with 1-5 inches of increased water levels for all of the lakes in the previous 30 days.

The lake levels were expected to exceed average water levels from June 28, 2018, by 10-15 inches, with the exception of Lake Ontario, which was forecasted at 28 inches. The average water level for Lake St. Clair through June is up 4 inches from the average water level from May, and is up 10 inches from the average water level from June 2018. The water level is also 4 inches over the average for the month of June.

The levels of Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are projected at a net increase of 1 inch at this time next month, while Lake St. Clair is projecting no net change in lake level by July 28, according to the latest report. Lake Erie and Lake Ontario are projected to see a net decrease of 4 and 7 inches, respectively.

Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of watershed hydrology for the Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District, said on July 2 that a finalized six-month forecast was slated to be released soon.

As streets and private roads have become covered in water, and while residents and business owners work and help neighbors to save their properties and homes from potential flood damage, Harrison Township officials continue to provide whatever services they can.

“Mostly everyone, even some not on the waterfront, are still being impacted,” said Trustee Larry Tomenello. “The dry days we did get didn’t make the water go down.”

During a June 24 Board of Trustees meeting, Tomenello commended the Township Supervisor’s Office, and the Water and Sewer and Buildings departments for going the extra mile to help residents.

Harrison Township declared a state of emergency on May 2.

Supervisor Ken Verkest said the township had, at that time, 60,000 sandbags on hand. Some 250,000 more were purchased, and since then more than 225,000 sandbags have been distributed. In addition, more than 3,000 tons of sand has been purchased, as well as around 100 test balls, which are inflatable rubber balls used to block outfalls. The township has also purchased more than a dozen gas pumps and more than a dozen electric pumps.

“It goes without saying that many residents are also taking action to protect their property and homes,” Verkest said. “In many cases, neighbors have taken it upon themselves to work with the township, with many residents deploying pumps as well to protect their streets.”

Verkest said the 10 employees of the Water and Sewer Department have worked overtime to help in the past 60-plus days on top of their regular duties.

The township has met with the Army Corps of Engineers for suggestions and recommendations on how to proceed.

The Army Corps of Engineers has authority to support communities in flood fighting by providing technical expertise and, in certain instances, supplies such as sandbags and plastic sheeting. During flooding in the winter of 1973, the Army Corps of Engineers supplied those materials as well as steel posts and lumber to help residents threatened by high water build dikes around their homes, including in the area of North River Road and Campau Bay, and South River Road along the Clinton River.

“We don’t anticipate getting an 18 inches of water increase tomorrow,” Verkest said. “We’re getting to a point where we might address a road, and we sandbag an area and it’s dry. And then we find as the water comes up another inch or an inch-and-a-half or 2 inches, or there’s a little bit of an onshore wind, we find another area between properties that was low and pretty soon the road is flooding, so we have to go over there and direct our attention to sandbagging this area.”

Verkest said the township has spent close to an estimated $300,000 from the general fund to address the high lake level issues.

“That’s a serious six-figure expense we did not budget for,” he said.

The next steps, per Army Corps of Engineers recommendations, include distributing information to residents on how to properly sandbag; possibly hosting an informational town hall with Army Corps of Engineers officials; working with the Macomb County Department of Roads and the Macomb County Public Works Commissioner’s Office to help with drainage and keeping roads dry, safe and passable; investigating funding sources; and beginning planning for high water in the fall. It is also recommended that residents continue to keep extra sandbags at the ready and prevent electrical wires from becoming submerged.

To find the Six Month Forecast or the Monthly Bulletin of Water Levels for the Great Lakes, visit www.lre.usace.army.mil.

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