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High lake levels continue to threaten communities onshore

Posted at 11:46 AM, Mar 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-22 23:38:47-04

As welcome as the sound of crashing waves is after a long winter, it's just one more thing to worry about for the Village of Fox Point.

The village director of public works says the lake level is always on his radar.

"We've been watching it closely ever since September of 2019," said Scott Brandmeier.

Brandmeier is keeping an eye on the battle between Lake Michigan and Beach Drive.

Since 2019, a good chunk of the land between the lake and the road has disappeared.

"We had anywhere from 2.5 to 7 feet of erosion in just a six-week period of time. So we knew we needed to do something," he said.

That plan involves giant concrete blocks stacked like soldiers holding back the waves.

A temporary fix while a more permanent one is in the works.

The good news so far this spring, the lake is cooperating.

The National Weather Service said the lake level is lower now than it has been.

"The cold snap we had in February did help with the water levels going down, it helped evaporate more of the water," said NWS hydrologist Sarah Marquardt.

"Since we've gotten rid of most of the snow, our flood risk has gone from above average to average, that's great news. But we're not out of the woods yet," she said.

Not "out of the woods" because we are still near record levels.

Lake Michigan is 9 inches lower than last March, but well above average.

It is on pace for a "top 5" highest march level in the last 100 years.

Now, Fox Point is waiting on federal money to build out the shore about 25 feet with giant boulders.

The project would make for more shallow water close to shore and result in smaller waves.

It could be approved later this year.

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