State environment officials request removal of sandbags along Great Lakes shorelines


Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

By A.J. Evans

The Michigan Department of Great Lakes and Energy has asked shoreline property owners to remove sandbags along shorelines of the Great Lakes.

According to a press release from EGLE, the sandbags were authorized “as temporary actions to help property owners along the Great Lakes to prevent erosion impacts to their property and structures.”

The release states that the sandbags must be removed before they deteriorate and leave behind plasticized materials in the water and along the shore.

The sandbags were originally placed on shorelines due to high water levels in the Great Lakes in 2020. Most of the sandbags were installed under a “minor project permit.”

Now, EGLE said, three of Michigan’s four Great Lakes (Michigan, Huron, and Erie) are back to historically normal levels, and the sandbags must go.

Sandbags on the shoreline of Lake Superior can remain, due to continuing high water levels, EGLE said.

Hugh McDiarmid is EGLE’s communications manager. He said that there is a plastic burlap material in the sandbags, and that when they degrade they can put a lot of plastic into shorelines along the water.

“We don’t need more microplastics and contaminants in the Great Lakes,” said McDiarmid.

A.J. Evans has an environmental reporting internship under the MSU Knight Center for Environmental Journalism’s diversity reporting partnership with the Mott News Collaborative. This story was produced for Michigan Radio.

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