High Water Levels Lead to Erosion, Structure Damage in Manistee

It’s a gift and a curse for the city, the water levels of the Manistee River are wrecking havoc on city property.

Last April, the Municipal Marina was destroyed due to a powerful seiche that rolled through the channel. The city is just now able to get to fixing that and they are now dealing with a broken riverwalk and extreme erosion.

“We’ve had a lot of damage caused through high waves and waves pushing ice,” says Jeff Mikula, Manistee’s Director of Public Works.

It took Manistee nearly a year to get the federal funding needed to rebuild their marina from wave damage last spring. Now there’s even more, the winter took its toll on the riverwalk and some areas of the bank are sliding away just like they are for Thomas Swedenborg’s neighbor.

“I will lose a lot of my land. Ultimately, I fear for my entire yard, unless something is done it is a matter of time,” says Swedenborg, “It may be a long time but it’s a matter of time.”

The damage in his neighbor’s yard is just a few yards from the home, one of the more pressing areas for the city to fix.

“We will likely have to do a little bit of that now but the overall long-term project could be $500,000-$1 million of prevent work,” says Mikula.

They can temporarily anchor the shoreline to avoid more erosion but the damage is done.
The record low water levels a few years ago forced emergency dredging and that digging may have sped up this problem at the shore.

“I had hoped over the years, as it got worse, that maybe they would find some grant money or work with the corps of engineers and do something,” says Swedenborg.

“It’s really tough for people to worry about high water levels when the water is low,” says Mikula, “As they start creeping up, you get up to a point where now we need to do something.”