Norton Discusses Rising Lake Levels on WXYZ

Richard Norton, professor of urban and regional planning, recently appeared on WXYZ, Detroit’s ABC affiliate, to discuss the rising level of water in the Great Lakes. Norton explained that houses and other buildings have been built too close to the shore, meaning that recent trends of higher water levels have the potential to cause significant damage to those structures.

Norton, who studies sustainable development and environmental planning, said that climate change contributes to the flooding and stronger storms that are associated with coastal damage. “It does look pretty clearly that we’ll get stronger storms. We’re already getting more rain — predictions show a warmer, wetter climate, so we’ll see more precipitation,” Norton explained. To safeguard coastal communities, Norton suggests a comprehensive, “no regret” approach that includes zoning laws, thoughtfully designed and located new developments, and preservation of wetlands and other natural water management systems.

In the coming years, Norton believes communities along the Great Lakes will have to consider the impact of rising water levels. “I think there are a lot of coastal communities that are going to face really hard questions,” Norton said, “about where do we protect right now and where do we look at areas and say, ‘Maybe it would be safer to just move back a little bit.’” 

To view the full segment, please visit