CHICAGO – A survey of 78 Michigan cities, villages and other jurisdictions along the Great Lakes shows that coastal damage from climate change will cost at least $260 million over the next five years, with shoreline communities having already spent $151 million over the past two years. These figures only represent a fraction of the true need as not all shoreline jurisdictions are reflected in this figure.

This new information illustrates the scope and magnitude of climate impacts on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River and the need for increased federal assistance for coastal communities struggling to respond to threats to critical infrastructure and assets along their shorelines.  The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, along with other regional organizations, are calling for funding in an upcoming infrastructure package to enable Great Lakes states and local governments to prepare for, respond to, and build resilience to current and future impacts from high lake levels and severe weather events.

The eight Great Lakes states have over 4,500 miles of shoreline, nearly as much as all the states bordering on the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and west coasts combined. A substantial, targeted investment in coastal resilience in the Great Lakes is warranted and will generate substantial benefits for the environmental and economic health of shoreline communities in the region.

Key Michigan survey findings

  • Shore erosion is a clear leading priority for Michigan shores, followed by flooding.

  • Of infrastructure, the concern is mainly on protecting natural coastal features, public beaches, and privately owned shores.

  • The infrastructure that is prioritized in fund allocation are roads ($57.5M) followed by privately owned shores ($47.6M).

The Coastal Resilience Needs Assessment Survey was completed in partnership with the University of Illinois Applied Research Institute and collected information from March through May 2021. The survey received nearly 300 responses from 241 jurisdictions across all eight U.S. states and two Canadian provinces that border the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.