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March 18, 2019 2:28 pm

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MI Law Change Raises Possibility Of Dumping Kazoo Harbor Dredge Spoils In Lake Michigan

     Recent amendments to the State of Michigan law protecting the environment and natural resources will allow for certain dredged material to be discharged into open lakes (the Great Lakes), reported Douglas City Council Member Gerald Schmidt at Monday’s council meeting. 

     Schmidt replaced Lisa Greenwood - who did not run for re-election in November - as City of Douglas representative on the Kalamazoo Harbor Authority Board. 

     The changes to the law (Part 325, Great Lakes Submerge Lands of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA), could conceivably provide the Kalamazoo Lake Harbor Authority with new options for getting rid of dredge spoils by depositing them into Lake Michigan.

     But there are there are serious doubts about whether that may ever happen or not, say state officials and harbor authority representatives. 

     “I think the problem with the dredge material from Kalamazoo Lake is it is considered contaminated with PCBs and potentially Arsenic,” Kameron Jordan of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, wrote, in part, in a recent email to the harbor authority, putting the words “it is” in bold. 

      The amendment applies to only that material not considered toxic. 

     “The conditions say the material can’t be contaminated with toxic substances and the material has to be placed in an area that is at least 30 meters deep. 

     There are also a few areas such as lake trout and diporeia refuges that can’t be used,” noted Jordan. 

     Dredging refers to removal of silt from the bottom of rivers, lakes and harbors. 

     For the most part, this is done to maintain or deepen navigation channels, anchorages or berthing areas for the safe passage of boats and ships. 

     The harbor authority has explored different avenues for where to place the dredge spoils from the harbor as part of its long-term vision.

     Earlier discussions have included the potential of putting the dredge at a special containment facility in a specified area at the local water treatment plant or working with marina owner RJ Peterson to expand his existing facility at Tower Marine and place the material there. 

     “As I understand it, we still can’t do it here (take dredge material from the Kalamazoo Harbor into Lake Michigan) unless we have areas—and it would be a difficult task to find—that have no perceivable PCBs,” Robert Sapita of the Kalamazoo Lake Harbor Authority told  Observer Newspapers Tuesday. 

     Sapita explained that there are some spots in the harbor that are clean, but those areas are sporadic, and as such, regulatory agencies may be skeptical about allowing the material to go into the lake. 

     Jordan’s comments came as a response to an inquiry by Sapita, in which Sapita asked why the state was allowing the City of Cheboygan to dump its dredge material from Cheboygan River into Lake Huron. 

MI Law Change Raises Possibility Of Dumping Kazoo Harbor Dredge Spoils In Lake Michigan

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