Report from the GLA Water Level Committee
The graph above displays the water level verse target for March. The dam gates have been at their lowest setting all winter but the Glen Lakes remain high to target due to precipitation. Starting March 15 the lake level target starts to ramp up, from 596.6’ in winter to 596.88’ for summer. The First Quarter Report from the GLA Water Level Committee was submitted to Circuit Court Judge Kevin Elsenheimer, who reviewed and approved it.
The Glen Lake Association will not be surprised to receive shore erosion comments when families return from their winter hiatus. Although the dam has been set at its lowest level for more than 180 days, allowing for the highest possible dam flow, a lower winter evaporation rate and unusually high inputs of rain and snowmelt have caused the lake elevation to remain well above historic winter heights. (Check out the latest issue of the GLA Newsletter for additional lake level stats). These higher levels are welcomed by most in summer, but can contribute to winter and spring erosion on shorelines lacking a natural vegetation buffer.
The cycle of ice formation and break up on the lake can further complicate the potential for significant erosion. This winter’s ice was marked by repeated freeze-thaw cycles, delaying formation of and persistence of a solid mass. As ice forms or breaks up, winds can push it against the shore, rolling up sand and peeling back lawns. This is called ice jacking and scours beach away from locations unprotected by deeper rooted natural vegetation. Prevailing westerly winds paired with multiple higher wind events this winter amplified this effect, especially on the east shore of Big Glen.
At left: Due to some very windy days and ice not forming on the lake until February, there was more erosion than usual this year. This picture is of Big Glen on the east-northeast shore. Note the undercutting of the grass and lack of exposed sand. Normally the sand slopes gradually from grass to water and waves would only touch grass on the waviest days.
Despite the best efforts of the Water Level Committee volunteers who regulate the dam flow, the surprising amount of rain and snow over the past six months along with yo-yoing temperatures reduced our ability to mitigate winter beach erosion. While we can’t control Mother Nature, there are things each of us can do individually to make our shores more resilient and resistant to erosion.
If you experienced erosion this winter, we want to hear from you. Help us identify which areas have been most affected and let us offer resources for helping you protect your shore in the future. Now is the perfect time to make changes to your shore that can better protect your property, reduce maintenance costs, and improve lake health as well as your personal enjoyment.
At right: The ice came off the lake dramatically. Strong winds pushed the ice up over the shore and into the trees in places along the east shore.
For the Water Level Committee
231 735 6085
For additional information, watch this video, part 2 of “The Shoreline Zone” from the new Michigan Shoreland Stewardship video series.
Check out additional information on good practices and landscaping guidelines here.