Grand Haven raises awareness of erosion to the state

Ottawa County

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — The city of Grand Haven is working to raise awareness about erosion with state lawmakers. 

Grand Haven City Council approved a resolution showing support to explore a disaster declaration at state level at their last city council meeting. 

“We have streets underwater. We have neighborhoods where the storm drains don’t drain because the outfall for the river are underwater,” Mayor Bob Monetza said about the issues that prompted the resolution.

Monetza says high water levels have been impacting every part of Grand Haven for several months. There are homes edging closer to the lake as erosion claims beaches, businesses forced to relocate because of flooding and roads that have been sitting under water since summer.

A closed road in Grand Haven due to high water levels this year. (Dec. 18, 2019)

Monetza says if recognized, the declaration would only make city owned assets eligible for repair funding. The city says they’re estimating that some singular road projects will cost $500,000 to $1 million to repair.

The city will also likely need to add in lift stations for their sewer systems and lift roads, which are also projects with million-dollar price tags.

“To spend millions of dollars raising roads or trying to rebuild sewer systems, something that does a lot of harm to citizens if we don’t deal with it, it’s going to be something that stretches beyond our budget,” Monetza said.

Ottawa County Emergency Manager Nick Bonstell says using Public Act 390, an act that can help during natural and human-made disaster, is somewhat unprecedented for this purpose. 

“It’s really designed for short duration events that damage and destroy parts of jurisdictions, like your tornadoes or straight-line winds,” Bonstell said. 

He says putting the resolution out there can at least raise awareness with state lawmakers. 

“It has the potential to have the (erosion problem) conversation stay in the forefront,” Bonstell said.

The city says at this point they are not asking for an exact dollar figure. They say because this issue affects multiple jurisdictions, they expect others to soon make similar requests to the state. 

“This is a problem that needs to be taken seriously, as it is when you can see damage all around you,” Bonstell said.

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