Posted on July 5, 2023
SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. — Part of South Beach in South Haven is under construction.
Wednesday afternoon, a bulldozer was pushing sand from one end of the construction zone to the other. In the center of the zone was a large pipe, with a circumference the size of a beach ball, that had water and sand gushing out of it.
City Manager Kate Hosier said the city and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have teamed up to add 1,900 feet to the beach.
“Dredging is when you’re removing sediment from a waterway, here it’s the Black River, and depositing it,” Hosier said. “In this case, we’re doing some beach nourishment.”
Hosier said they’re moving and depositing 57,000 cubic yards, which is double or triple the amount that was moved during the dredging project of 2020.
“It’s important for several reasons. One, to maintain the minimum depth we need in the Black River for navigational purposes,” Hosier said. “But, secondly, it really helps with the beach nourishment. As we saw in the high water in 2020, we saw a lot of the beach erode away.”
In 2019 and 2020, Lake Michigan’s water level rose to 581.56 feet, up from the average height of 579. Those few feet caused widespread flooding to occur on the beaches and in the neighborhoods. It also led to beach erosion and property damage.
The Army Corps of Engineers stated in a news release that all the excess water threatened to contaminate wells used for drinking that were located outside of the filtration center.
City of South Haven asks beachgoers to remain out of the construction zone during the Fourth of July weekend and July 3rd Fireworks show.
“The beach was much, much smaller,” Hosier recalled. “So, what we have here on this South Beach is we have a one million gallon reservoir where we have to hold our clean water before we can distribute it to our drinking water customers.”
Hosier said the dredging project is “weather-dependent.” So they’re hoping to have construction wrapped up by July 10. Until then, they’re asking beachgoers to abide by the danger and keep out signs. They’ll be up during the Fourth of July weekend and July 3rd fireworks show.
“That is the big event. Plus that’s a big weekend for us,” she said. “My understanding, in talking with the contractor, is that they will be shutting, once they’re shutting down on Friday, they won’t be resuming until after the holiday.”