Protecting properties along Green Bay

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Homeowners along the Bay of Green Bay are scrambling to shore up their properties against record high water levels.

The snow- and ice-covered Bay of Green Bay, seen from shore (WBAY photo)

Many have already lost land due to erosion from wind and waves, and the forecast for this spring predicts water levels will continue rising.

That's leaving coastal contractors and engineers in high demand.

"In the last six weeks there's been a lot of calls," says David Berken, owner of Springview Landscape Service.

Berken is in the business of protecting shoreline properties, and he can sense the concern in the calls he's receiving.

"Oh, absolutely. I think some people are actually just about freaked out," says Berken.

Wednesday, Berken was meeting with property owners who live along Nicolet Drive on the bay's east side to go over plans to shore up their shoreline.

Berken says it's a rush against the calendar.

"It's kind of advantageous actually when the bay is frozen to take care of some of this work versus waiting until the ice is gone and then we more than likely are going to have increasing water levels and have to deal with waves and water, and all that kind of stuff makes things a little bit more tricky," says Berken.

According to the DNR, hundreds of property owners along the bay have applied for emergency permits to install rock barriers and rip rap in front of their homes.

Finding someone to do the work is a challenge right now.

"There's only so many contractors that are willing to tackle the projects, and then to the materials, to find the materials, that's becoming a little bit more tricky," says Berken.

Berken says the average cost to repair and build up a property owner's shoreline carries a hefty price tag, between $20,000 and $50,000.

But he says the extreme conditions are leaving most people with little choice.

"Overkill is really not a realistic term. I think the more you can do, the better your chances are," says Berken.