HRWC Executive Director Rebecca Esselman testifies before the Michigan Senate Committee on Local Governments regarding inland lake levels.

On February 6, 2024, I provided testimony to the Michigan State Senate Committee on Local Governments urging the committee to support Senate Bill No. 622. The bill seeks to update sections of Michigan’s Natural Resources and Protection Act regarding how inland lake levels are set by local circuit courts when there’s a control structure put in place. This includes impoundments—or lakes created by dams—along rivers. HRWC engaged with Sen. Bayer’s office, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), and other interested parties to make sure that the definition of “normal lake levels” reflects natural variation of lakes and rivers. HRWC asserts that taking natural river flow variation into account, when managing water levels, is the best way to protect the health of the river ecosystem. 

On February 20, 2024, SB 662 reported out of the Committee on Local Governments to the full Senate for a vote. We recommend watershed residents contact their legislators, urging support for SB 622. 

State Senators Rosemary Bayer, Stephanie Chang, Sue Shink and Erika Geiss introduced this bill on November 9, 2023. Senator Bayer’s district represents a portion of the Huron River watershed in Oakland County. Senator Shink’s district represents a portion of the watershed in Washtenaw County. Both include inland lakes that are created by dams on the Huron River. 

You can read my testimony to the Senate Local Government Committee, here. It is HRWC’s position that maintaining a set lake level with no variation (i.e. static), which is the unfortunate outcome of a Michigan Court of Appeals ruling in 2022 is both infeasible and detrimental to lakes, rivers, and wetlands. Normal lake levels are naturally dynamic—not static, and “maintaining” normal lake levels for waterbodies (including dammed rivers) with, or pursuing, legal lake levels through the State, must take natural flow variation into account to protect the health of the ecosystem. 

Contact your state representative and senator!

Tell them they should support SB 622 to update the Natural Resources and Protection Act to consider river ecosystem health in managing river flows at dams. 

Find your State Representative 

Find your Senator 

Email our Government Relations Director, David Lossing at if you live in the watershed and need help finding or contacting your legislator or have questions about SB 622. 

Sign up for our e-news here and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. HRWC will track the action on this proposed legislation and share developments with our audiences.