Where Did The Beach Go?


Melanie Kibler

Photo credit: https://www.woodtv.com/bills-blog-2/latest-great-lakes-water-levels/

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN- Over the past month many of beaches along Southwest Michigan have been experiencing catastrophic shoreline erosion.  The most prominent as of right now are St. Joseph, Bridgman, and South Haven.

In St. Joe, waves as tall as fifteen  feet and winds up to 60 miles-per-hour have been battering the Lions Beach.  As of November 27th, the water washed away the sand under the concrete walkway at Lions Beach, causing it to buckle.  The playground has also been affected and though it is flooded, it seems as if it will survive.  

Along with taking things away, the water has also littered both Lions Beach and Silver Beach with debris. The crews aren’t expected to clean up any of the beach until spring.

St. Joseph isn’t the only city facing extreme changes, in fact, Bridgman is asking for help putting up sandbags around Weko Beach House. On November 28th, the water was only one-hundred  feet away from the structure and whenever a large wave came in, it would throw debris right up next to the building.

The waves have actually eroded the beach enough that sandbags from the 1980s, which was the last time that the water level was this high.

“We’re trying to be proactive and get out ahead of the rising water levels and hope that the sandbags are not necessary,” said Bridgman Parks and Recreation Director Milo Root.

South Haven is also struggling with the high water levels.  Homeowners next to the lake are losing all their property as the water washes everything away.  Others worry constantly about their house falling into the lake since the bluff has become unstable.  

This water level crisis is very critical to lakeshore cities because most of them make their money from the tourism industry, but if the beaches are destroyed, then tourists won’t come.

Until someone figures out how to prevent beaches eroding away all anyone can do is pray for the lake to freeze over.