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New legislation could limit boat speeds when Michigan waters are high

Yamaha Watecraft Group on Flickr
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Lawmakers in Lansing will consider a bill this week that would allow for temporary boating speed limits when water levels are high.

Artie Bryson is supervisor of Clay Township on Lake St. Clair. He told a state House committee last week that boats aren’t usually a problem for homes in the township. But last year, when water levels shot up to record highs, homeowners had to resort to sandbags to keep water out. Boats made it worse.

“Their waves would actually push over the sand bags that people put up in front of their houses and actually lapped up against their homes,” Bryson told legislators during a meeting last week of the House Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Committee.

Bryson says he’s worried this year will be even worse.

“In the spring time is when we get our big increase,” he said. “I’m losing sleep over it already.”

The committee is scheduled to consider the bill, HB 5401, again on Tuesday.

If passed, it would allow local sheriffs to post temporary lower speed limits when water levels are high, and establish up to a $500 fine for violations.

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Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Public’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Public since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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