Kalamazoo Lake Harbor Authority Reaches Milestone With DEQ Dredging Permit Approval
After a year of numerous efforts and setbacks, the local harbor authority has reached a milestone.
On Friday of last week, the Kalamazoo Lake Harbor Authority received notification that its permit application before the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for dredging an estimated 115,000 cubic yards of accumulated sediment from Kalamazoo Lake has been approved for a five-year period, Harbor Authority officials announced.
The dredging will focus on three major navigation channels described as the Emergency Phase I Dredging Plan.
That plan proposes that individual properties fronting the lake, as well as marinas, connect to those channels and do so at their own expense.
The authority is proposing to put the dredge material in a monitored containment facility on property at the Kalamazoo Lake Sewer and Water Authority, of which preliminary talks are ongoing between the two parties.
If the plan advances, it will eventually require DEQ blessing.
“This (DEQ permit to dredge) is a major milestone in the plans to save the harbor. Now we can concentrate our efforts on the actual dredging and long-term planning for the harbor,” said Kalamazoo Harbor Authority Chair Robert Sapita.
However, with this new triumph comes a new challenge, as the harbor authority now tries to find how to pay for that long-term engineering plan estimated at $300,000.
Also, the actual dredging work as proposed in the Phase I Dredging Plan is estimated to cost $2 million.
Kalamazoo Harbor Authority Secretary Lisa Greenwood last week said the authority is currently meeting with officials of different engineering firms to find the best option, including Edgewater Resources, JJR (the firm which produced the Kalamazoo Harbor Master Plan), and Lakeshore Environmental, among others.
“We have to talk about how we are going to pay for it (an estimated long-term engineering plan) - both cities (Saugatuck and Douglas),” said Kalamazoo Harbor Authority Secretary Lisa Greenwood.
She said that one option could be, for example, the establishment of a special assessment.
“It’s (the DEQ permit) the first step in many steps,” said Mark Bekken, Saugatuck City Council member as well as treasurer of the harbor authority, said on Monday.