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King Co South Haven Harbor dredging begins; NEPA approvals affecting beneficial placement

Posted on August 29, 2022

After a two-month delay, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced plans to start dredging the South Haven Harbor this month.

Sampling results confirm the proposed outer harbor dredge material is suitable for beneficial reuse as nourishment material south of South Beach, according to Elizabeth Newell Wilkinson, Grand Haven resident engineer for the Corps of Engineers.

About 18,000 cubic yards of material from the federal navigation channel will be placed south of the South Pier and the city’s water filtration plant that is near the pier.

“We understand the eroded area in front of the water treatment plant may seem the logical placement site, however, we do not have National Environmental Policy Act approval to place there this year,” Newell said in a news release. “We are hard at work on the required environmental assessment to evaluate whether or not we will be able to place material there next year and are hopeful in the results.”

South Beach, like many other beaches on the south side of federal harbor structures along Lake Michigan, is an accretion zone that accumulates more sand because of changes to natural sand migration.

“We will apply for a permit with Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy to place material on the beach if we demonstrate the beach is eroding,” said Wilkinson.

King Co. of Holland planned to begin hydraulically dredging in South Haven late this past week and will be on site for about two weeks.

The public should remain clear of dredging and placement areas, the news release stated. Fencing and signs will be posted at the nearshore placement area for the project.

A delayed dredging

South Haven dredging was originally scheduled to take place earlier in the season, but Muskegon Harbor shoaling caused major impacts to commercial navigation and crews were directed there first, according to the Corps of Engineers.

Dredging took place earlier this season in Holland and Grand Haven, and is wrapping up in Muskegon and Manistee.

Dredging is expected to start soon in St. Joseph. However, the Corps of Engineers has not indicated an exact date. King Co. will dredge nearly 250,000 cubic yards in total from the six locations.

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


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