Along the Great Lakes, it’s time to prepare for extremes

Categories: Big picture
Published on: February 19, 2020

New York Times / Peter Annin / 13 February 2020

The relentless high water is bound to bring more strife this year even as officials along the Great Lakes continue to promote climate adaptation strategies and resiliency. Armoring the shoreline is one form of adaptation. Property buyouts are another. History will show which strategy is most effective over time. What’s clear is that some people have built too close to the water’s edge. Their property was fine during low water, and they managed to hang on during the record high water of the 1980s, but today’s weather patterns have brought panic.

The devastation has been remarkably widespread, with properties sliding into the lakes from one end of the expansive watershed to the other. In this new era of extremes, property owners, taxpayers — and the officials they elect — will need to take a serious look at their lakefronts and decide whether armoring up is a wise investment, or a Sisyphean venture.

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