Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation providing $21 million for 58 “emergency” harbor dredging projects, a decision based on the historic low water levels in lakes Michigan and Huron.
The dredging will be done at public harbors and recreational marinas designated by the State Waterways Commission.
“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 last week. “I thank the Legislature for approving these funds in time for the boating season.”
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.
The $21 million for dredging was contained in Senate Bill 233, sponsored by state Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart.
“The viability of some Northern Michigan harbors and livelihoods of residents who depend on recreational access to our lakes is in jeopardy due to low water levels and federal inaction,” Booher said. “As the summer tourist season approaches, these communities need action. This plan uses state waterways and general fund dollars to take emergency action to dredge our harbors.”
New dredging laws
The governor also signed four other bills related to dredging.
SB 252, sponsored by state Sen. Jack Brandenburg, R-Harrison Township, provides low-interest loans to private marinas for dredging, where the marinas are located on the Great Lakes or connecting waterways.
House Bills 4398 and 4400, sponsored by state representatives Amanda Price, R-Park Township, and Peter Pettalia, R-Presque Isle, lower the permit fee to dredge sand.
Sand does not carry the same contaminants, so disposal does not carry the same risks. The fee for non-sand areas ranges from $1,500 to $2,000, but the legislation lowers the permit fee for sand to $50.
PA 12, sponsored by state Rep. Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville, 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.