GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A plan to dredge a section of the Grand River has been postponed, the Grand River Waterway Project announced Monday.
The project seeks to allow navigation between Grand Rapids and Ottawa County and would help the economy of communities along the route.
The Grand River Waterway Project started pushing a plan to dredge the river last year and says it would add $57 million to local economies over 10 years.
The plan was backed by Dan Hibma, a major real estate developer and husband of former Michigan Secretary of State Republican Terri Lynn Land.
Hibma was able to secure $3.5 million in state funding for the project.
Many that would be impacted by the plan were opposed. Communities from Grandville to Grand Haven, Native American groups, anglers, sportsmen and the Grand River Watershed Arts and Music Council were not in favor of the plan.
The plan was passionately opposed by environmental groups like the West Michigan Environmental Action Council.
In a statement WMEAC said the project would negatively impact the river’s water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, ecosystem services, and existing and planned recreational activities.
“WMEAC joins the growing number of municipalities, property owners, and environmental and conservation organizations that have signed letters and resolutions of opposition to the project, and hope that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources will take no further action,” WMEAC said in a statement.
Hibma would not go on camera, but in a statement he says the DNR failed to perform soil testing that is necessary to allow the plan to move forward. He says the plan is favorably viewed by 67 percent of people in a poll they commissioned.
GRWP says this is only a temporary delay.
“(It could return after) a phase of working with community stakeholders to correct misinformation and receive feedback,” they said.
To learn more about the project, visit the Grand River Water Project website.