Kalamazoo Lake Harbor Authority Trying To Persuade U.S. EPA To Expedite Remediation
The Kalamazoo Lake Harbor Authority, with help from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), is trying to persuade the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to change its course regarding cleaning efforts of the Kalamazoo River.
“We are telling the EPA, ‘Look, you’ve cleaned the source (from where low-level environmental contaminants are coming from), so there is no more stuff coming down here. Whatever came downriver is already here, so why don’t you bring the cleaning project to our harbor?’” Saugatuck Mayor Pro-Tem Ken Trester reported at Monday’s meeting.
The authority and the DEQ are asking the federal agency to consider skipping the projects it has scheduled upstream from the Saugatuck area, thereby getting to the much-needed dredging and cleaning of the Saugatuck-Douglas Harbor.
The harbor is on the EPA’s list of Superfund sites, meaning PCB (Polychlorinated Biphenyls) contamination has been found in the soil sediments stemming from paper mills located upriver from the harbor.
The situation places the community in a conundrum: it is restricted from getting grants (i.e., Great Lakes Restoration funds), until the Superfund program first deals with contamination at upstream sites.
“If you look at the EPA’s cleaning schedule—the way it looks now—no project will get to our harbor before the mid-2020s,” said Trester.
For the Harbor Authority it has been a race against time.
Through its research and discussion with various agencies and waterways experts, it has learned that Superfund monies may well dry up before any cleanup efforts even get to the Kalamazoo Harbor.
Trester said he and colleagues will continue moving forward in talks with the EPA despite all the red tape that they are confronted with in addressing their concerns.
In other related news about the Harbor Authority, the Saugatuck City Council Monday appointed Marilyn Starring as its member-at-large of that body.
Starring takes the place of Felicia Fairchild, who recently submitted her decision not to extend her contract as executive director of the Saugatuck/Douglas Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Also, earlier on Monday’s agenda, the Saugatuck City Council approved the appointment of Starring to the Saugatuck Township Fire District Board.
“Marilyn Starring has served this community in so many ways,” said Saugatuck City Council Member Barry Johnson, extending accolades and noting that she will be a good asset on the fire board.