Erosion threatens infrastructure on lakeshore

Muskegon County

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Muskegon County Emergency Management is working with state and federal agencies to assess erosion that could impact a water treatment plant. 

News 8 accompanied a survey team Tuesday afternoon along Beach Street in the city of Muskegon.

The filtration center sits just beyond the roadway and currently is being battered by high winds and waves. 

“There’s no beach left. I mean, it’s all gone and all that water’s coming onto the street and up onto the sidewalk on the other side of the street,” Muskegon County Emergency Services Director Rich Warner told News 8. “So, it’s very, very dangerous to be on any part of that street right now.”

The plant sits on higher ground not far from the portion of road being washed away. 

“The back side of (the plant is) pretty low and we’re concerned with losing that part of the building. That potentially could happen,” Warner added. 

He called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to check on the closed road. The hope is to gather advice on a response for the county from several agencies.

Currently, “super” sand bags could be the best short-term option. 

“We’re seeing high lake levels all around the entire state. They’re either at, near or above record lake levels, so each side of the state is having different issues. Over here, we’re seeing erosion whereas on the east side it’s more of a flooding concern,” Jeff Yoakam, an emergency management specialist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, told News 8. 


The Ottawa County emergency manager told News 8 they’ve identified four to five structures between Holland and Spring Lake Township at risk of severe impact from erosion. 

There’s no urgent concern that someone’s home could fall into the lake, but it’s likely one will need to be moved to prevent a collapse. 

The county will compile a list of addresses that need to remain under monitoring next week, but the emergency manager did not share specifics with News 8. 

According to the department of public safety, none of the properties are in Grand Haven.

“We don’t have a lot of erosion issues in reference to houses at risk for falling into the water out there, but we do have some issues around our pier,” Capt. Clint Holt of the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety told News 8. 

Holt says there’s a bigger concern for people who venture to close to the high waves. 

“If they put themselves in danger in going out there and they get washed off, our rescuers are at danger trying to go out there and make that rescue,” he explained. “In some cases, it may be so dangerous that we might not be able to get out there to effect a rescue, so be mindful of that.”

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