2013-04-04 / Community

Snyder OKs dredging bills

Manistique among those receiving funds

LANSING – Manistique is among the communities benefitting from recently signed legislation providing $21 million for 58 emergency harbor dredging projects across the state. The legislation, according to Gov. Rick Snyder’s office, protects Michigan’s economy while ensuring a safe and enjoyable boating season.

According to City Manager Sheila Aldrich, the cities selected were expected to have everything in place to begin the projects once funding gained final approval and was signed by Snyder. She noted Manistique has already begun discussions with the city’s engineer, Coleman Engineering, and applied for a dredge permit from the DEQ and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The city intends to run the project locally, said Aldrich, and will likely deposit the dredged material in the local landfill, unless testing is done and the sediment must be placed elsewhere. The funding for the project will cover engineering, permits, and dredging costs. Dredging will be completed at a “recreation depth”, according to the plan, not “commercial depth”.

Dredging is now considered necessary as water levels in the Great Lakes reach historic lows. The recent effort is aimed at public harbors and recreational marinas approved by the State Waterways Commission.

Funds were requested by the governor in his February budget recommendation. Of the $21 million, $11.5 million comes from the general fund and an additional $9.5 million comes from the Michigan State Waterways Fund.

“As the Great Lakes State, we need to ensure the availability of our beautiful waterways to boaters to support tourism, local communities, the state economy and safe boating,” Snyder said. “I thank the Legislature for approving these funds in time for the boating season.”

Senate Bill 233, sponsored by state Sen. Darwin Booher, now is Public Act 9 of 2013.

In addition to $21 million for dredging projects, SB 233 includes $26.3 million in other supplemental appropriations. Of this, $23.3 million is for 76 land acquisitions and recreational development projects through the Natural Resources Trust Fund.

The remaining $3 million in SB 233 comes from the general fund and goes to the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to better connect eligible veterans to health care, education and quality of life benefits and services. These connection programs will be run through the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, created by Executive Order 2013-2.

The governor also signed four other bills related to dredging.

SB 252, sponsored by state Sen. Jack Brandenburg, provides low-interest loans for dredging to private marinas located on the Great Lakes or connecting waterways. The bill now is PA 10.

House Bills 4398 and 4400, sponsored by state Reps. Amanda Price and Peter Pettalia, lower the permitting fee to dredge at least 10,000 cubic yards of at least 90 percent sand. Sand does not carry the same contaminants, so disposal does not carry the same risks. The fee for non-sand areas is either $1,500 or $2,000 depending on the exact location, but this legislation lowers the permitting fee for sand to $50. The bills now are PA 11 and 13.

HB 4399, sponsored by state Rep. Al Pscholka, allows the Department of Environmental Quality to issue a dredging permit before the end of the 20-day public notice period if emergency conditions warrant. The permit still will go through the public notice process and the final permit could include additional conditions as a result. The bill now is PA 12.

Visit www.legislature.mi.gov for more information on the bills.

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