Local Harbor Authority Nears Final Agreements To Launch Dredging Project
The only steps left for the local harbor authority to have its first-phase dredging project shovel ready are completion of two agreements with Saugatuck Township and the local water treatment plant related to a dredge spoils facility, according to harbor authority officials
Those agreements are expected to be approved soon, they say.
Now comes the authority’s major challenge: funding.
“It’s taken a year of work; we started this back in October of last year,” Kalamazoo Lake Harbor Authority Chair Bob Sapita told Observer Newspapers on Tuesday.
Sapita provided an update on the harbor authority’s activities at the Douglas City Council meeting on Monday.
“If we want to start next spring, we have to have a place to put the dredged material,” said Sapita about ongoing discussions with the Kalamazoo Lake Sewer and Water Authority (KLSWA) regarding a proposed facility site for dredge waste at that location.
The authority has already obtained a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) permit for such a site at KLSWA, a requirement that stipulates the installment of inspection wells around the spoils facility, he said.
The authority further seeks a “revocable easement” with the townships, discussions of which are also ongoing and very promising. “There is a part of the pipeline (the one serving as a conduit for the dredge spoil) that runs through Saugatuck Township property, from the harbor waters to a segment along I-196 to (KLSWA),” he said.
Despite there being no dredging of the harbor as authority representatives had hoped for earlier this year, there is much the harbor authority did accomplish.
That includes biometric surveys, which Sapita said were complicated and involved, as well as acquiring permits from four different regulatory agencies: DEQ, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Michigan Department of Transportation.
“Out of the 32 samples taken of the water, there were PCBs detected in only eight samples and they represented a fairly small amount,” said Sapita.
Also, the authority’s long-term planning committee conducted interviews with five different engineering firms, three of which were selected to study and analyze various options for the harbor’s future.
No money is currently available to fund such a study which is estimated at $330,000.
That is for the long-range plan, but the community further needs an estimated $2 million to complete the first phase of what is being designated as emergency dredging.
Sapita said he will also soon be providing a presentation with an update to the Saugatuck City Council.