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Lakes remain high, landowners cope

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Lake Michigan water levels for July were more than 2.5 feet above average but not a record, Commercial Record correspondent Jim Hayden reports on his Bicycle Base Fennville blog. Still, local communities are still feeling the impact of high water.

July’s level for Lake Michigan-Huron was 581.93 feet above sea level, 2.16 inches above June’s mark and 15.24 inches above last year’s average, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees Great Lakes water levels. The two lakes are considered one because they are linked by the Straits of Mackinac.

The water level was 0.72 inch below the record high mark of 579.33 feet above sea level set in 1986 and 31.2 inches above the long-term average, according to the Corps.

The high water has forced closing the West Side County Park beach in Ganges Township. Though there is no way to the beach, viewing decks remain open, according to Allegan County officials.

In Saugatuck, businesses along the Kalamazoo River have had to build temporary walkways over flooded roadways so customers can reach their doors.

“Our street is underwater,” said Mark Klungle, 747 Water St. Area property owners have been pumping water off the road. Stacked sandbags and pumps that move 7,000 to 10,000 gallons per hour are keeping the waters at manageable levels.

The city needs to look to the future, Klungle said.

“We’re looking for help from the city,” he told city council on July 22.

The problem is the storm drains are now below the river level so water backs up, according to city manager Kirk Harrier. The city is working with its engineering firm to find solutions.

“If the water doesn’t go down before winter, we’ll have ice problems,” Harrier added.

Lake levels should drop in coming months.

“The Great Lakes are either nearing their seasonal peaks or have already started their seasonal decline,” the Corps wrote on its website.