Report Indicates State Officials Feel Channelization May Not Be Best Way To Clean Up Harbor
State regulatory agencies and an engineering company are giving the municipalities of Saugatuck and Douglas plenty of hints they are against channelization as way to reduce sedimentation of the Kalamazoo Harbor, a recent meeting and ensuing memo indicate.
Edgewater Resources - the engineerng firm hired by the two municipalities to address harbor cleanup issues - sent the September 25 summary report of the recent meeting at the state capitol in Lansing.
That meeting included representatives from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and Edgewater.
Edgewater sent its memo to the City of Saugatuck.
A copy of the document was part of the Douglas City Council meeting on Monday, but no discussion took place apart from Douglas City Council Member Gerald Schmidt saying, “It was interesting reading.”
Channelization refers to various strategies of stream engineering in which structures (e.g. berms, banks) are used to create pathways for sediment to keep moving with the water. In the case of the Kalamazoo Harbor, that flow would take sediment out to Lake Michigan.
It is an approach that prominent area marina owner R.J. Peterson has long promoted as the best option to deal with the problem, but, as evidenced by recent developments, state agencies and the engineering firm hired by the two municipalities are more and more inclined to discard it as a viable option.
“They kind of gave you the idea, you got this many hurdles, it’s impossible,” Saugatuck City Manager Kirk Harrier, said last week, echoing comments from council members about what they have learned.
“The state (of Michigan regulatory agencies) indicated that a highly engineered system to move sediment downstream will be challenging to obtain support/approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA.
“DEQ, USACE and EPA would not be likely to support a plan that shifts dredging and clean-up responsibilities and moves contamination into Lake Michigan,” indicates the Edgewater summary.
Instead, state regulatory agencies want a more “holistic” approach: a short-term plan for sediment removal paired with regional sediment reduction, which involves reduction of sediment upstream by preserving topsoil and reducing non-point source contamination, such as run-off from farm lands that has long been cited as a major problem.
“State and federal programs exist that may be able to assist in remediation of the contaminated soil upstream or within the KLHA (Kalamazoo Lake Harbor Authority) area,” says the summary.