Corps of Engineers to replenish Michigan’s eroding beaches; contract awarded to King Co for dredging

Posted on May 26, 2022

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will use western Michigan harbor dredge material to nourish and replenish Lake Michigan beaches from recent high water level erosion.

“Nourishing beaches using shoaled sand into these harbors rather than trucking in new material is very functional and cost effective,” said Grand Haven Resident Engineer Elizabeth Newell Wilkinson. “It allows for both dredging and beach nourishment.”

The Corps of Engineers sampled and analyzed the harbor dredged material to determine if it is suitable for beneficial reuse as nearshore nourishment material. The sampling results indicate the proposed outer harbor dredge material is suitable for beneficial reuse as nourishment material. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) issued Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certifications for these projects.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded contracts to dredge Holland, Grand Haven, St. Joseph and South Haven harbors this spring season. The King Co., Inc. of Holland, Michigan will dredge over 85,000 cubic yards from the four areas.

“That’s roughly 7,100 one-ton dump trucks full,” said Wilkinson, “That’s a lot of great beneficial sand for Michigan’s beaches.”

King Company began hydraulically dredging Grand Haven Harbor this week and is removing over 18,000 cubic yards of material from the outer harbor (lakeward of the pierheads) and pumping it 8,000 to 11,000 feet north of the north pier. This work should be complete by May 31.

Material from the remaining three projects will go south of the south breakwater.

St. Joseph Harbor dredging should begin June 6 and take eight days to hydraulically dredge about 18,000 cubic yards from the federal navigation channel.

South Haven Harbor dredging should begin June 15, running through June 24, and will hydraulically dredge about 18,000 cubic yards from the federal navigation channel.

Dredging at Holland Harbor took place May 13 through May 17 and removed about 31,000 cubic yards of material from the outer harbor (lakeward of the breakwaters).

The public should remain clear of placement areas. Fencing and signs are posted at the nearshore placement areas for all projects.

The South Beach is an accretion zone that accumulates more sand because of changes to natural sand migration caused by the federal harbor structures. All four harbor dredging projects are using beach nourishment funds because of this.

“The dredged material cannot be used to protect the water treatment plant at South Haven’s South Beach because funding was appropriated under the Section 111 authority for this impacted area,” said Wilkinson. “The Corps of Engineers has received additional funding for South Haven dredging and is working to obtain environmental clearances to place future dredged material in front of the treatment plant at the South Beach.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, maintains a navigation system of 84 harbors including the channels joining lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, St. Clair and Erie.

For more details, contact Detroit District Public Affairs Specialist Emily Schaefer, 313-226-4681.

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