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Thursday, 14 February 2013 15:22

To combat record low Great Lakes water levels, Michigan Waterways Commission creates emergency dredging plan

(AREA) -- With current water levels in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron at all-time lows - and levels in lakes Michigan, Huron and St. Clair expected to continue dropping - the Michigan State Waterways Commission has adopted an emergency dredging plan that will provide zero-match grant funding opportunities for harbors of refuge, recreational boating harbors, marinas and boat launches most affected by the low water levels. As part of the plan, the DNR Parks and Recreation Division says it will redirect nearly $8.8 million of Waterways funding from existing appropriations and receive $11.5 million from the 2013 General Fund, as recommended in Governor Rick Snyder's just-released budget. In total, nearly $21 million would be dedicated toward keeping Michigan's waterways operational. There are 83 public recreational boating harbors--63 are local municipal harbors, 19 are state harbors and one is a federal harbor. There were more than 800,000 registered boats in 2011, ranking third highest in the nation. Congresswoman Candice Miller commended the effort stating that the health and sustainability of Michigan's waterways are vital to the state's economy. DNR Director Keith Creagh says the emergency dredging plan helps address the problem for this year, but a long-term solution is needed.