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Corps of Engineers begins dredging operations in Saugatuck with King Co

Posted on June 5, 2024

SAUGATUCK, Mich. — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, will begin dredging 68,000 cubic yards of sediment from Saugatuck Harbor, Michigan, next week to ensure safe navigation between Lake Michigan and the Kalamazoo River. The two-mile federal channel in Saugatuck is a popular recreational destination and harbor of refuge. 

The King Company, of Holland, is contracted to complete the work for $341,000, after completing dredging in Muskegon under the same awarded contract totaling $1.4 million. 

The channel entrance will be dredged to 16 feet below low water datum. 

Sand will be placed along the shore for about a mile from the Saugatuck South Pier southward through Oval Beach.  

“This project is a great example of using a maintenance dredging as a vehicle to combat erosion and provide multiple positive outcomes for the community in Saugatuck,” said Liz Newell Wilkinson, operations manager at the Grand Haven Office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District. “We have worked with the state of Michigan to ensure this sediment is environmentally safe to nourish the Lake Michigan shoreline.” 

While underwater excavation provides safe routes for shipping and recreational navigation, it also provides an opportunity to find mutually beneficial uses for the dredged material.  

Nationally, the Corps of Engineers is striving to use 70% of its dredged material beneficially by 2030. The focus is on finding locations needing wetland enhancement, brownfield reconstruction and beach nourishment.  

In 2023, the Corps of Engineers estimated about 30-35% of dredging material already is used beneficially. Another 10-15% requires special handling. 

For Saugatuck, the Corps of Engineers tested and certified the sediment is free of contaminants and safe for public health. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) has permitted the work.  

Dredging is tentatively scheduled to be completed July 19, though weather delays may impact the deadline. 

Saugatuck Harbor and Kalamazoo River were last dredged in 2019 and historically maintenance dredged on a three to four-year cycle. 

The public is asked to avoid the areas where active dredging and placement are being conducted, as well as following all signs and cones placed at worksites for their safety. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, maintains a navigation system of 81 harbors and channels joining lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, St. Clair and Erie. 

To learn more about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District visit:

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