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Governors across Great Lakes address record water levels, flooding concerns in Milwaukee

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Tom Nackers lives on the Milwaukee River near the Riverside Theatre. He says there is a change in the river.

“I've never seen it as high," Nackers said. "We’ve never seen it as high as it is this year.”

His boat, and even small boats like paddle taverns, can no longer fit under all the river’s bridges, which means backed up traffic from raising them.

“There are a lot of boats that normally would fit under the bridges, and they don’t fit now.”

The river is higher due to a near record water level in Lake Michigan, one of the issues the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Collaborative, made up of governors across the great lakes states and Canadian leaders, is handling in Milwaukee this weekend.

“The good news is, that’s why we’re meeting here today," Wisconsin Gov Tony Evers said. "We cannot look at this as just isolated instances.”

The problem has escalated in New York, where Lt Gov  Kathy Hochul says a 400 mile stretch along Lake Ontario is devastated by floods.

“We have had National Guard on the ground for months," Hochul said. "We have more than one million sandbags in place. So we are treating this very seriously.

Wisconsin DNR Secretary Preston Cole said, it will be a while before Milwaukee is in that kind of danger, but lake communities in the state do need to be ready for the Lake Michigan to push in.

“Communities around the lake shore are going to be required to build more resilient infrastructure," Cole said. "We’re going to have to prepare them for that infrastructure challenge in the future.”

The collaborative will meet all weekend. They plan to release an action plan to combat rising water levels next week.

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