Congressman Upton Visits District to Talk Lake Levels.

Feb 20, 2020

 

St. Joseph Mayor Mike Garey, Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad and Congressman Fred Upton stand in light snow on the public boat ramp on the St. Joseph River in Benton Harbor on Thursday, February 20, 2020.
Credit Jennifer Weingart / WVPE Public Radio

Congressman Fred Upton visited the shoreline in his southwest Michigan district Thursday to talk about lake levels and erosion.

Republican congressman Fred Upton was in St. Joseph, Benton Harbor and South Haven to look at the state of the marinas to see the impact high water may have on boating, fishing and recreation.

“The fishing industry, the recreation industry, I mean, this is almost a $10 billion industry for the Great Lakes.”

Upton was touting the SHORE act, a bi-partisan bill that would require the government to take recreation into account when planning harbor maintenance projects. That bill has been referred to committee. 

Lake levels are at record highs and are predicted to rise a foot more before it crests. Upton said the problems have been exacerbated by record precipitation and a warmer-than-usual winter.

“When you have 15, 20 foot waves," Upton said, "the shoreline has been protected because of the icebergs that are there [in the past], we’ve had no ice this year.”

In Benton Harbor, high water levels periodically flood one of the city’s main roads. Mayor Marcus Muhammad said the water impacts Benton Harbor’s economic interests.

“We want this to look completely transformed but it’s difficult to do that, for people to come in and invest or do any creative economic things because of the water issue.”

Several county and local governments have called for a state of emergency over high lake levels. The state and federal government have already expedited the process for shore protection permits.

 

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow is also visiting the area this week to talk about lake levels and erosion.