South Haven marinas brace for higher water levels

Southwest Michigan

SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — South Haven officials are trying to figure out how to handle high water levels at its marinas this boating season.

The city owns four municipal marinas and is expecting water levels to rise based on forecasts from the Army Corp of Engineers.

The South Haven Harbor Commission held a workshop on Tuesday to discuss ideas.

south haven harbor commission meeting
The South Haven Harbor Commission holds a workshop at City Hall on Jan. 14, 2020.

Power may need to be shut off if water rises over the docks and some sections could be inaccessible for long periods of time, according to Kate Hosier, assistant city manager and harbor master.

“If it does turn out like they are forecasting, which is up to eight more inches by July, that could mean that our docks are underwater, and docks underwater mean that’s a safety issue for us,” Hosier said.

The work session also talked about the possibility of delaying when boats can be put in from mid-April to mid-May, which could be a challenge for boat owners and storage companies.

The city is also discussing how they would provide any refunds if that became necessary.

If levels are too high, some boats may not be able to be put in at all.

“It’s something that all communities are thinking about and South Haven is not alone in looking at how we are going to be dealing with these devastating effects,” Hosier said.

While the city continues to plan for any rise in water levels, officials will not know until the spring how levels are changing along the lakeshore.

“It’s been a challenge for boaters who have come into a slip and their boat is that much higher than the dock. They almost need step stools to get down to the dock,” Hosier said.

Carlie Stivers owns a vacation home in South Haven and is encouraged the city is preparing. However, Stivers is concerned about the financial toll higher water levels could have on the local economy and residents.

“I’m a little bit concerned about the amount of money they’re going to need to put in,” Stivers said.

The ideas discussed in the workshop will be presented to the South Haven Harbor Commission that would then make any recommendations to city council.

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