The Great Lakes Coalition hosted a webinar "Protecting Your Shoreline Property" on Wednesday, April 28, 2021, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. (EDT).  The webinar featured comments by Jerrod Sanders, Assistant Director within the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) Water Resources Division, the agency that issues the permits to regulate what property owners can legally do to protect their shoreline property.

Many shoreline property owners are or soon will be evaluating the condition of our property along the Great Lakes after this past winter.  Do you need to take action?  Did your revetment/seawall survive?  Did more of your bluff erode?

The webinar consisted of a brief 30-minute presentation on the permit process and shoreline protection options.  The remainder of the webinar was devoted to answer questions from property owners.

Read the summary:

Great Lakes Coalition Webinar

April 28, 2021

7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. (EDT)


“Protecting Your Shoreline Property”


Presenter:  Jerrod Sanders, Assistant Division Director, Water Resources Division (Wetlands, Inland Lakes & Streams, Coastal Programs) State of Michigan Department of Energy, Great Lakes & Environment.

E-mail:  sandersj3@michigan.gov


The Great Lakes Coalition-sponsored webinar with Jerrod Sanders of Michigan EGLE took place via ZOOM on Wednesday, April 28, 2021, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. (EDT).  Director Sanders made an excellent and well-received presentation and answered several questions presented by our membership.  (Due to technical difficulties, a recording of the webinar is not available but Director Sanders made himself available to answer any questions via e-mail at SANDERSJ3@michigan.gov


Director Sanders began his presentation by stating that this has been the wettest period in Great Lakes recorded history (month, year, etc.):

-  catastrophic impacts to homes, property, infrastructure

- existing support and response systems were stressed

- flooding in SE Michigan

- erosion along Great Lakes shores



- expedited permitting

- permits prioritized based on risk


Number of permits issued:

Year 2020 = 2,238

Year 2019 = 730


What EGLE has done:

-  temporary sandbags – minor category

-  no penalty after the fact – with prior approval

-  emergency conditional permitting

-  EGLE website:  www.michigan.gov/highwater

    -  contractor links

    -  fact sheets

    -  helpful links

    -  conducted webinars


What is going to happen?

-  overall water level decline – bottomed out in April, peak in late summer

-  It’s going to happen again.  1986, 1996 – every 30 years

-  Climate?  Predicted to be warmer and wetter, weather is more volatile, higher Hi’s and Lower Lo’s


Systems in place:

-  what decisions to make

-  outcomes based on how we adapt – water level is 12-14” lower than last year

-  Planning

-  Policy

-  Education


Lake Erie is still too high.


Beaches are dependent on sand supply.  Armoring cuts off sand supply.  Does not STOP but SLOWS supply.



-  Better planning:

    -  Coastal planning and resiliency

    -  Managed retreat

    -  Install “better” solutions

        -  temporary sandbags/Geo-tubes

        -  bioengineering

        -  stone revetments


All revetments cause some problems:  Scouring; wave energy up.

EGLE is trying to avoid hard armoring; trying for least harmful method.  For temporary use:  Geo-tubes.


ASSISTANCE:  Michigan Coastal Management Program (MCMP), Ronda Wuychuk at EGLE.


Regulatory boundaries – Law 325

EGLE does not regulate above OHWM – 580.5 feet.




  1. Are sandbags permitted for permanent installation?  NO.
  2. Rock in the water?  PUSH WAVE ENERGY UP.  EASIER TO REPAIR.
  3. Drain wicks?  REDUCE BLUFF EROSION
  4. How can we determine if any permits are being issued nearby our properties?  MIWATERS SITE SEARCH.
  5. Better solution?  GEO-TUBES WORK.
  6. If a local community or township adopt special ordinances concerning shoreline protection that are more restrictive than the state rules under EGLE, is it legal?  THERE WILL BE LEGAL CHALLENGES
  8. If a contractor is on the EGLE website list, does that mean it’s an “approved” vendor?  NO.
  9. Does EGLE have specific requirements for stone size, slope, revetment geometry, etc. for each site-specific permit?  YES TO SLOPE AND REVETMENT GEOMETRY.  STONE SIZE TO BE DETERMINED BY COASTAL ENGINEER.
  10. Does EGLE inspect and approve each stone revetment during construction with a final inspection approval?  THEY ARE TRYING TO.
  11. Will EGLE permit a stone revetment where a township or local community does not permit it?  EGLE IS ASKING THE ATTORNEY GENERAL NOW.
  12. Does EGLE allow offshore dredging?  If Yes, what are the conditions and requirements?  ALLOWED FOR BEACH REPLENISHMENT – EGLE LOOKS AT THE PERMIT REQUEST.
  13. In areas of extreme erosion often caused by nearby structures such as harbors, can offshore breakwaters be installed?  EGLE IS WARY OF OFFSHORE STRUCTURES, BUT WILL CONSIDER.
  14. Why does EGLE allow river and harbor dredging materials to be placed offshore beyond the point of closure?  Why not place the dredged material at downdrift shore sites?  BECAUSE THEY HAVE TO BY LAW.
  15. In areas that experience sand starvation, does EGLE have any plans to move sand that is offshore beyond the point of closure back to the shore and within the littoral drift zone?  EGLE IS NOT OPPOSED, BUT DON’T HAVE PLANS (OR MONEY) TO DO IT.*  * EGLE HAS NOT RECEIVED AN APPLICATION AS YET.  EGLE SHOULD ACTUALLY INSTITUTE THE PROJECT BUT NEEDS FUNDING.  THEY ARE VERY INTERESTED IN DOING IT.
  16. I would like to know if projects are vetted to 1) protect neighbors’ lakeshore?  2) If neighbors need to be notified and/or give authorization for projects?  3) What is being done when a neighbor’s property or beach is eroded or damaged due to a sea wall of similar structure?  4) If public walking areas are lost due to walls, do public rights-of-ways need to be created?  ANSWERS TO 1 AND 2:  YES.  ALL PROJECTS TRANSFER ENERGY TO NEIGHBORS’ PROPERTIES.  ANSWER TO 3:  THIS WOULD BE A CIVIL MATTER IF CONTRACTOR COMPLIED WITH PERMIT.  ANSWER TO 4:  SEE ANSWER TO QUESTIONS 19 & 20 BELOW.
  17. If EGLE has approved construction of a revetment (or other type of hard armoring) but construction has yet to begin and I feel that I will be adversely affected by the revetment, may I appeal EGLE’s decision?  What is the appeal process?  YES, 60 DAYS TO FILE A “CONTESTED CASE.”
  18. If a revetment on private property has caused accelerated beach or bluff erosion on an adjoining property, what recourse does the adjoining property owner have?  THIS WOULD BE A CIVIL ISSUE IF CONSTRUCTION WAS IN COMPLIANCE.
  19. If I am not able to walk on “wet sand” to get past a revetment located on private property, am I legally allowed to climb onto or over the revetment to get to the other side or is that considered trespassing?  EGLE DOES NOT ENFORCE THIS—IT’S A COURT DECISION.  CONSULT AN ATTORNEY.
  20. Is the property owner legally responsible for providing for safe passage past the revetment?  NOT REQUIRED UNDER LAW #325.
  21. How much below the OHWM, and for how long, does the lake level need to be to activate the requirement to remove the sandbags:  EGLE WILL WATCH SUMMER PEAK AND SEE WHAT PREDICTION WILL BE FOR NEXT YEAR, THEN REQUEST REMOVAL, OR SEE IF RISK IS STILL PRESENT.
  22. Will EGLE notify holders of sandbag permits that they need to remove sandbags because the lake level is below the OHWM?  YES, HOMEOWNERS WILL BE NOTIFIED.
  23. How much time will EGLE give the homeowner to remove the sandbags?  NO ANSWER.
  24. Question regarding surface water runoff at top of bluff causing erosion:  How can EGLE support homeowners suffering from improper or negatively impacted surface water drainage including unpermitted land clearing?  EGLE ONLY DEALS WITH WHAT REGULATIONS GIVE THEM.  THIS COULD BE A CIVIL MATTER BETWEEN PARTIES.