Michigan receives millions for dredging projects - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Michigan receives millions for dredging projects

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(03/27/13) - Pretty soon, people will be taking their boats out of winter storage.

They're expected to hit a major obstacle this year - low lake levels.

That's why Gov. Rick Snyder approved new money for dredging projects around the Great Lakes.

This will have an economic impact. The Governor says $21 million will be used to dredge 58 Harbors across Michigan this spring.

Measurements taken last month show Lake Huron and Lake Michigan have reached their lowest ebb since record keeping began in 1918.

Harbors are scheduled to receive money for dredging.

"This talks about the opportunity to keep our Great Lakes open in a number of key lakes through emergency dredging. I use the word emergency because we have unusually low lake levels in Lake Michigan, Lake Huron and Lake Erie and we need to do something about it," Snyder said.

A spokesperson with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says warm weather combined with lack of snow and rain are to blame for the low water levels.

Jim Coburn, the chairman of the board for the Michigan Boating Industry Association, says the extra dollars means a lot for those who enjoy recreational boating.

"It means a lot for our state and our economy and recreational boating in general. There was a crisis. The low waters and to have these funds available to do the dredging in public harbors is really a big deal. Keeps money flowing. It keeps the harbors open," he said.

"Michigan has the third highest number of registered boats of any state in the nation and we love our boats," Snyder said.

Snyder says he has been in contact with dredging companies.

He plans to move forward as soon as the weather permits.

Four of the dredging projects are located in Mid-Michigan, or the Thumb. They are Bay City, Caseville, Port Austin and Harbor Beach.

The Bay City project calls for spending nearly $78,000 at Liberty Harbor, which is owned by the city and has 100 slips.

The program will involve the removal of accumulated sediments at the bottom of the waterway so boats can pass through the main channel without hitting bottom.

Dredging Liberty Harbor is not only a safety issue, but could help the Bay City economy.

"Dredging of the marina is going to be a great thing not only for Hooters, but all of Midland Street. As the recreational boaters come in to this marina, tie up and get off their boats, they'll come over here and enjoy lunch or dinner at Hooters as well as the other businesses in the area," said Karl Schwartz, Hooters regional director.

Low interest loans will be available for dredging of private marinas.

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