Public Getting Tired Of Lake Kalamazoo Dredging Delays
Some folks in Saugatuck and Douglas are growing impatient with the public officials who have pledged to dredge channels in Kalamazoo Lake, near Lake Michigan.
There are plenty of sand bars and shallow areas in the lake that regularly hang up boaters who aren’t familiar with the low water levels there.
“It’s pretty shallow,” said Matthew Thompson. “You see Sea-doo’s every single day getting stuck out there along with some smaller boats that shouldn’t really be getting stuck.”
The subject of dredging became a sore spot for some residents after the process didn’t begin as early as expected.
Douglas City Manager Bill LeFevere explained what areas they had planned on targeting.
He said the dredging plan starts in the southern channel and winds around by Tower Marine and the site where the Keewatin was stationed.
They want to dredge that existing channel and extend it down further into the Douglas area so small boats can travel to restaurants and shops there.
He said the Harbor Authority also wants to dredge an area on the opposite side of the lake near residential homes.
Third, they want to dredge a channel in the center of the lake that filled with silt over the winter.
“There used to be a channel right down the middle that’s essentially closed off,” said LeFevere.
LeFevere said they’d hoped to start dredging two weeks ago on the $2,000,000 project.
However, they must now delay it by another few months.
In fact, they just got their permits into the Department of Environment Quality at the beginning of July.
City leaders delayed the process because they were looking for a cheaper location to dump silt.
Currently, the plan is to transport the silt by pipeline to an area at the waste-water treatment plant, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“We’re challenged because this is a Superfund site,” said LeFevere.
Because there have been years of buildup of pollutants from old industrial plants on the Kalamazoo, the DEQ requires a containment site that meets its specifications.
City Manager Bill LeFevere said, “The testing that has to be done. There’s nothing easy about getting ready to dredge in this lake.”
For now, they’ll stick with the site by the wastewater plant, which is DEQ approved, but he says they can change their mind if they find another suitable site.
“We’re impatient too. We really wish that we could have been dredging, by this time,” said LeFevere.
If the permit they submitted in July is approved, LeFevere said they could be dredging sometime in the fall.