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U.S. Army Corps resumes Grand Haven dredging with additional E.coli testing

Posted on July 12, 2023

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District (USACE) will resume dredging in Grand Haven Harbor on Wednesday, July 12, with additional testing for E. Coli and safety measures.

King Co. Inc., of Holland, under an Army Corps contract, will dredge the remaining 35,000 of 141,000 cubic yards of sediment contracted to be removed from the outer harbor in Grand Haven to keep the commercial channel navigable throughout the remainder of the year. The Army Corps paused dredging at the location Friday, July 7, out of an abundance of caution after the Ottawa County Health Department issued a “no body contact” warning because of high concentrations of E. coli at North Park Beach in Ferrysburg. The remaining dredging will take about seven days to complete, weather dependent.

The source of the E. coli is still unknown, but severe rains last week around the Grand River watershed are suspected as a potential source of the bacteria. Ottawa County lifted its E. coli warning order Saturday following several tests showing the water around the park was again at safe levels.

To ensure public health and safety, the Army Corps has worked with officials from the Ottawa County Health Department and the state of Michigan to develop a robust testing plan to restart dredging. Rapid testing will be conducted in the river, from the dredging pipeline outflow, at knee-level in the water column out from the pipeline and 100 yards north and south of the pipeline.

“We are asking the public to swim elsewhere until dredging completes and flagging is removed,” said Liz Newell Wilkinson, Grand Haven resident engineer. “This extra testing coordination with the county means we will be able to complete our work, while maximizing the public’s safety.”

Water samples will be collected during the active dredge material placement operation at North Park Beach and analyzed on a contract basis by TRACE Analytical Laboratories, based in Muskegon, for E. coli using a method known as HACH M-Coli Blue 24. Testing will start the first day of dredging and continue each day active dredging is being conducted.

The test results will be coordinated with the county to inform the public and ensure public health.

E.coli is a bacteria known to cause swimming-related illnesses when a person comes into contact with large concentrations, resulting in diarrhea, skin rashes, ear pain, eye pain and congestion, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The public is encouraged to follow all safety warnings from Ottawa County for their well-being.

Additional signs and fencing will be placed 100 yards around the dredging material placement site at North Park Beach to discourage the public from swimming near the dredging equipment.

All residents and beachgoers must keep out of the construction zone. Safety cones are placed around the areas of active bulldozing and pipeline discharge.

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.

The Detroit District provides vital public engineering services in peace and war to secure our Nation, protect the environment, energize our economy and reduce risks from natural disasters.

For more details, contact Detroit District Public Affairs Specialist Brandon Hubbard, (313) 500-3251.

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