Dredging Plans Move Forward With Easement Approval From Township
Saugatuck Township officials last Wednesday gave thumbs up to a public property easement for above-ground piping that would convey dredged sediment from the Kalamazoo Harbor to a special disposal facility at the local wastewater treatment plant.
Meant to be a temporary conduit and estimated to cost $40,000, the piping will also be used to convey the filtrated water from the disposal facility back to the harbor.
The Saugatuck Township Board approved the agreement with the Kalamazoo Lake Harbor Authority, termed a revocable easement, with conditions, including that the authority provide a $5 million insurance certification, a means to protect the township from any possible liabilities.
With regards to the confined disposal facility itself, the harbor authority is also currently working on an operations agreement with the Kalamazoo Lake Sewer and Water Authority (KLSWA).
The two pipelines - about one mile long going one way, according to Local Observer estimations using Goggle Earth - will run from the harbor, where the silt will be pumped out, on through River Bluff Park in the township then along the I-196 public right-of-way and end up at the special spoils site on the northwest section of the Kalamazoo Lake Sewer and Water Authority’s property boundary.
The piping will not traverse private property.
The project is all part of the Kalamazoo Lake Harbor Authority’s $2 million phase-one, emergency dredging proposal. It consists of carving out three channels in strategic locations to help boats navigate the waterways.
Harbor Authority Board Chair Bob Sapita said the cities of Saugatuck and Douglas will ultimately, with recommendations from the authority and consultants, have to decide how they will go about paying for the project.
“We are trying to help get the project on the way,” Saugatuck Township Manager Aaron Sheridan told the township board before it proceeded to vote yes on the easement.
“If that (easement) can help the harbor authority save money on the project that is a good thing,” added Sheridan.
“We are pleased with the yes vote from the township,” said Sapita. “There is one pipe that will carry dirty slurry up (to the dredge spoils site at the KLSWA) and one to carry the water back to the lake with the solids filtered out.”
Noting how phase one is very close to being shovel-ready, he noted, “We’ve got all the (state and federal) permits necessary.”
As for the long-term plan, the authority aims to find ways to reduce the amount of sediment that dumps into the harbor from upstream. Many portions of the harbor have a water depth of two feet or less, as acknowledged by experts and harbor authority officials.
The authority recently approved commissioning Edgewater Resources of St. Joseph for the help in the long-term planning, design and finding funding resources.
The authority originally aimed for summer 2013 to get to phase-one dredging, but it encountered many obstacles.
First, the cold lake made it difficult to take sediments samples early in the season. Then there was a number of dredging permits that state and federal agencies required that demanded much time and effort. Finally, there was some uncertainty as to where to the containment facility site would be placed.