PARK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers installed two underwater acoustic devices last month to study rip currents and wave patterns along the north side of the Holland State Park breakwater.

“We don’t know if the structure at this location is amplifying the rip currents or if it’s some other factors,” said Liz Wilkinson, the Grand Haven resident engineer. “That is something, once we have the data, we will be able to take a closer look at.”

Wilkinson said they will use data collected by the two underwater devices and an additional breakwater camera to create an algorithm that will help predict hazardous conditions.

Holland’s breakwaters are that of an arrowhead design, similar to Muskegon. However, the beach at Holland State Park creates a hooklike shape that may contribute to additional rip current conditions.

“The area that is really concerning is the point of which the north pier comes into contact with the beach,” said Park Township Manager Howard Fink.

He said the need for more data stemmed from monthly Pier Safety Consortium meetings. The group composed of both state and local agencies recognized a pattern of behavior specific to the north side of the breakwater. 

“There’s some real safety concerns in that area because that’s where the rip current can form and often do form when the waves hit the structure … and they bounce back and create a rip current,” Fink said.

The acoustic devices will study this specific area through the summer.

According to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, there was one drowning at Holland State Park last year, and three in 2020.

Short term safety steps have also been taken, according to Fink, including the addition of digital lake condition signage and a gate along the north structure.