Letter to the Editor: High Water Requires Action Now

Your Dec. 6 article “High Winds, Water Batter Door County Shoreline” was informative and helpful in continuing to draw attention to our changing climate and how it’s affecting where we live.

I’m interested in both what we can do to adapt and what we can do to lessen our contribution to the problem. First, we need to understand what science can tell us about where we are, why, what we might expect and what we can do about it short term and at the generational level. 

Craig Sterrett’s article ends with words from Brent Bristol, Ephraim’s village administrator and harbormaster: “We’re just trying to do what we can. It’s cyclical, everyone knows. It’s not the first time this has happened. Talking to several old-timers who’ve been around and serving on committees, there isn’t much you can do. It’s been this high or higher before. We’ll figure it out.” 

Although I appreciate the valuable perspective of those who have seen high water levels in the past, the current water-level events are also being affected by climate changes.

“Climate Change the Cause of Great Lakes Record High Water – and Earlier Record Lows,” written by Matt Field, Dec. 7, 2019, explains the latest science addressing Great Lakes water levels.

Richard B. Rood, one of the lead climate scientists at the University of Michigan, said, “We’re at the beginning of this period of rapid change. We’re not going to stabilize on something.” Rood suggests we need to plan for extremes of high and low water episodes.

The Peninsula Pulse’s Sterrett article further quotes Bristol: “Hopefully we’ll be having some collaborative discussions over the winter with the [Wisconsin Department of Transportation], with the county …” As of Dec. 27, the water level is starting the new year at 16 inches higher than a year ago. Depending on the balance of precipitation, evaporation and runoff, 2020 lake levels promise to be a continuing topic of concern. I hope as we deal with what comes, we think about how we can embrace the promising clean-energy economy.

John Hermanson

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin