With water levels near all time highs in the Great Lakes, the southern coasts of Lake Michigan have seen sever erosion to the dunes that line the shores of west Michigan due to a 17 inch increase over historic averages. The water has pushed up against the dunes themselves, undercutting the support of the sand and causing small landslides. The trees that grow on top of the dunes begin to have their roots exposed and eventually the tree falls to the beach and brings a large section of sand down with it which is then washed away by the high water. Once this occurs the process repeats itself. The lake levels this year have shown to be near two feet inches above their historic averages in some locations. With this rise the primary concern of most lake front owners is property damage to any infrastructure close to the lake shore. Stairs, porches and even homes could be affected. This kind of damage could affect many of the 40 million residents along the various lake shores with some beaches in Ottowa County losing up too 100 even 150 of beach. Levels had been far lower than average for the last 20 years and in that time dunes built up, beaches extended and people started building closer to the lake edge. Now that the water levels are coming up again residents are in real danger of property damage. Our local news agency in Grand Rapids, WOODTV8, has a great video showing the extreme differences in lake levels over the last 20 years.
The rising levels stem from Lake Superior being higher than seen in decades and all that excess water is released down into the lower lakes causing this drastic rise we see here. The last time water was this high was their all time record high in 1997.
Recently a product has been built to combat this and allow for people living along these areas to safely get down those steep sand inclines and make it to the beach.
Alumistair is designed to be deployed in these extreme situations. These stairs are high quality durable aluminum that can be in used to replace old, rotting wooden stairs and can easily be installed by two people. The stairs themselves can support up too 1600 lbs with lengths of 8′, 10′ 12′, 14′, 18′ and 20′ but can be further customized to fit the situation you face. They have a 45 degree standard approach but can be custom designed to a range of 35-55 degrees. With stair treads 7″ deep and 8.5″ of vertical space between each step they are comfortable to walk up and down. The stairs come complete with 1.25 OD handrails for safety. The rails have two horizontal rails on each side. The overall width of the stair is 34.5″ and the treads are 29.25″ wide. The runs of each stair section vary with the largest stair at 20 ft long having a vertical run of 14.2 ft.
These stairs can be used off of large seawalls to get down to permanent docks as well as coming down steep wooded faces on our many inland lakes. Most stairs are not designed for these type of environments but Alumistair is and can save you time and money over building a custom wood stair system that will eventually rot and fall apart. The best thing about these stairs are that they are stack-able on one another so the amount of height you can cover is dramatic! We have seen up to four individual 20 ft sections of stair connected to one another via platforms allowing someone to descend 55 vertical feet down a face comfortably and safely.
As you prepare for 2019 and what could be another year of very high water levels, stay a step ahead of the water by getting yourself a secure Alumistair set up.
Graph Credit To: NOAA
Photo Credit To: WOODTV8, SeaGrant Michigan