‘We’re happy’: Lakefront homeowners rejoice with receding water levels


HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Lake Michigan water levels are down a foot and homeowners along the lakeshore are happy.

It’s worth noting that while the levels are down, they are still a couple feet above the long-term average.

“It’s down about a foot from the record highs we had last year. It’s still a couple of feet above the long-term mean, so we have to put this in context,” said Alan Steinman, the Alan & Helen Hunting director of the Annis Water Resource Institute. “You just don’t want record lows and you don’t want record highs, which is what we’re getting these days.”

For two years, homeowners along the lakeshore couldn’t get much use out of their docks. Many of them were destroyed or underwater.

With the lake levels receding, thanks to a dryer than average winter, homeowners like Harvey Klinger are excited.

“We’re over the hump and we’re happy,” Klinger said. “The water kept coming up and coming up. It ruined my dock, my neighbors dock, about a half a dozen docks right around here.”

Klinger owns a home along the banks of Lake Macatawa in Holland. News 8 spoke with Klinger two years ago and he was not happy.

“I’m past annoyed,” Klinger told News 8 in July 2019. “It’s a mess. My property is submerged. But we don’t get much help from the city.”

On Wednesday, Klinger’s little slice of heaven — his dock — is back after being submerged and eventually destroyed.

“We were flooded. The water was surging back and forth up and down the street here. And it was just a total mess,” Klinger said. “My dock was rotten and swaying, did a real number to it because it was shot. We had to tear it all apart.”

It was a mess that Steniman says could likely be a result of climate change.

“We’re seeing changes that we haven’t seen in the recorded history of our water levels, and so it would make sense that climate change is having some impact in that regard,” Steinman said. “Ultimately, Mother Nature has the final say.”

The Army Corp of Engineers say Lake Michigan is down a foot compared to its level at the same time last year. Klinger thinks it’s fallen more than that.

“I like to be safe and say 18 inches,” Klinger said. “But I think it’s a circular thing. It happens like this every so many years — some of them say seven years. I don’t know.”

Despite the ups and downs on the lake, Klinger thinks he’ll stick around and see what the next two years bring.

“There’s stuff that you can’t change, you endure. You just put up with it and shut up,” Klinger said. “It’s worth every bit of it.”

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