Jan 13, 2020

Lake Michigan Beach Town May See $16 Million in Shoreline Improvements

In order to repair infrastructure due to high water conditions on Lake Michigan, the city of South Haven, Michigan could spend up to $16 million. 

erosion control

Leaders in South Haven could spend up to $16 million to repair and protect the shoreline due to high water levels on Lake Michigan, reported Booth Newspapers.

The city needs between $8.5 million and $16.3 million to repair and protect infrastructure because of the high water conditions on Lake Michigan, according to a Dec. 22 letter from Abonmarche Consultants, Inc., which is the engineering firm hired by the city to assess water conditions. 

“In addition to the long-term elevated water levels, short-term events have occurred frequently in recent years,” said the letter. “Short-term events include wind setups, storms, and pressure-related events. On the ground, these types of events have resulted in water level rises on the Black River exceeding approximately two feet for periods of twelve to twenty-four hours.” 

The letter also mentions that infrastructure needs may threaten public health and safety.

It then goes on to outline repairs and other infrastructure needs, including; coastal and riverbank erosion; issues at the marinas; damage to storm water and utility systems; and the possibility of flooding. Water levels are expected to remain high throughout 2020, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

In an interview with Booth Newspapers, Assistant City Manager Kate Hosier said no decisions have been made and any spending would first require approval from the city council.

South Haven will need between $500,000 and $2 million in repairs because of coastal erosion, reported Booth Newspapers. Erosion along the riverbank has already caused damage to sidewalks and could also harm the city's water main, sanitary sewers and electrical systems.

The city’s four marinas are also at risk due to high water levels. The docks could not be usable during the boating season because of the high water levels. If no modifications are made, the marinas may need to be closed for portions of the season. 

Another issue mentioned in the letter is flooding caused by backup of the city’s storm water infrastructure. City officials are considering purchasing temporary flood control systems for “swift deployment” during flood events. 

“As recent drone imagery shows, coastal erosion is occurring and supplemental protection will be needed to minimize erosion and protect infrastructure,” according to the letter.

The water conditions have also eroded beaches in the city. To restore the beaches for summer use, the city will need to pursue “beach nourishment,” which involves depositing sand onto the beaches sourced from other waterways, a process once completed in 2019. The cost to do another cycle is estimated to be between $250,000 and $1 million, reported Booth Newspapers.

The estimated cost for all the projects is projected to grow if water levels continue to rise, or if issues are worsened by winter storms, according to the letter.

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