Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Stabenow, Peters call for action in response to high Great Lakes water levels

Request includes money for Ontonagon dredging

WASHINGTON — Michigan’s two senators, Democrats Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, annoucned Monday that they were calling on the Department of the Army and the Office of Management and Budget to address the high water levels around the Great Lakes in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ budget for the 2020 fiscal year.

Included in that call was a funding request for dredging Ontonagon and other commercial harbors around the state.

“Communities and coastlines across Michigan have been battered by flooding and erosion as a result of record high water levels on the Great Lakes and inland waterways,” the two senators wrote. “It is imperative that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continue to help our communities address the near- and long-term challenges that stem, in part, from the climate crisis.”

The two senators called for the action in a letter sent to Rickey “R.D.” James, the assistant secretary of the army for civil works; and Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget.

The letter identified several areas for funding in the Army Corps’ 2020 work plan — including maintenance dredging for commercial and recreational harbors around the state.

“The Administration’s … budget contains significant gaps in funding to address the dredging needs at harbors across Michigan. It is our understanding that there is a $4 million shortfall in the amount needed to dredge commercial harbors in Holland, Marquette, Monroe and Ontonagon,” the letter reads.

The letter also claims an additional $8.42 million is needed to dredge 14 recreational harbors around the state.

The letter also calls for additional funding to combat coastal erosion and for technical assistance with various programs designed to help communities develop plans to protect themselves against extreme weather and flooding.

Finally, the letter urges money be devoted to the Great Lakes Coastal Resiliency Study, which was described as “A first-of-its-kind effort to develop a coordinated strategy to manage and protect the Great Lakes and its 5,200-miles of coastline.”

Congress has already authorized the study, according to the letter, but the Trump administration didn’t allocate funding for it in last year’s work plan.

Stabenow and Peters urged the Army Corps allocate $1.2 million for the study in its 2020 workplan.