The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District (USACE) is pausing dredging in Grand Haven, Michigan in response to Ottawa County Health Department’s “no-contact order” for North Park Beach after preliminary testing found E.coli concentrations in the area. Dredging will be paused in the area until testing results show the E.coli levels have naturally dissipated.
Holland-based King Co. Inc., under an Army Corps contract, is currently dredging in Grand Haven Harbor to remove 141,000 cubic yards of sediment from the Grand Haven Harbor federal navigation channel. The dredging was expected to be completed in mid to late July. The material is being placed at an area north of the harbor, which includes the shoreline at Ottawa County North Beach Park, in accordance with a water quality certificate issued by Michigan Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).
Ottawa County issued a “no-contact” order Thursday afternoon, July 6, effectively shutting down swimming at North Beach Park in Ferrysburg, after three tests Wednesday showed elevated levels of E.coli in the area. Warnings will continue to be posted at the park until sampling shows safe levels of E.coli in the water. The source of the bacteria is unknown but heavy rains in the area over the past week likely have elevated bacteria levels in the river. Dredging operations in the channel take on a significant amount of river water, which could be explain the elevated levels in the dredged material placement area.
Out of an abundance of caution, USACE paused dredging operations until testing can be completed. The Detroit District will independently test the area and work with county officials to collect additional data from the area to test the river, beach area and dredging placement area for E.coli to monitor the situation.
“We have been coordinating closely with Ottawa County,” said Liz Newell Wilkinson, Grand Haven Resident Engineer. “While it is important that we complete dredging in the federal channel to allow continued commercial shipping unimpeded, we also take the County’s concerns seriously and will work closely with them as we make decisions moving forward on our dredging operations.”
The Grand Haven Harbor is accessible for shipping currently as a result of the dredging operations that were completed prior to this pause in dredging. About 35,000 yards of material remain to be dredged.
E.coli is a bacteria known to cause swimming-related illnesses when a person comes into contact with large concentrations, resulting in diarrhea, skin rashes, ear pain, eye pain and congestion, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The public is encouraged to follow all safety warnings from Ottawa County for their well-being.
All residents and beachgoers must additionally keep out of the construction zone. Safety cones are placed around the areas of active bulldozing and pipeline discharge.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, maintains a navigation system of 81 harbors and channels joining lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, St. Clair and Erie.
The Detroit District provides vital public engineering services in peace and war to secure our Nation, protect the environment, energize our economy and reduce risks from natural disasters.
For more details, contact Detroit District Public Affairs Specialist Brandon Hubbard, (313) 500-3251.