MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) - The message about the need for harbor dredging reached Lansing. Thursday, Governor Rick Snyder said with water levels at an all time low there's a need for emergency dredging.
Included in the governor's proposed budget is $21 million to dredge Michigan waterways. $9 million would come from the state waterways fund. That money usually go to repair and maintain breakwalls, docks, and boat ramps. The rest of the money would come from an $11.5 million appropriation.
Several million tons of freight moves in and out of the Muskegon channel each year. In 2012 it helped a Muskegon group land a contract to unload and store parts for a wind farm being built near Lansing. The parts were brought to Muskegon by a dozen large container ships.
Scott Musselman's C.F.O. Sand Products Company played a role in bringing the work to town. "I think people like to see this. like to see it come to town, and like what it does for the economy," said Musselman.
The federal government is responsible for dredging more than 50 ports and waterways in Michigan. Recently only large working harbors like Muskegon have been dredged. It leaves small pleasure harbors on their own.
Communities like Pentwater in Oceana County have struggled to keep their channels open to boats, especially large sail boats with deep keels. Last May community members, business owners, and the Pentwater Village Council collected more than $60,000 and did dredging work without help from Washington.
Village Manager Jim Miller says that effort would be difficult to repeat this spring, "People put in 100 dollar bills, it is just something though that is a one-time thing. And unfortunately probably you can not pull that off every year."
State Senator Goeff Hansen from Hart co-chairs the newly formed legislative waterways caucus. He and other caucus members are calling on the federal government to spend some of the $7 billion currently in its water ways fund. That money is collected from a tax on shipping.
The money is to be used to dredged harbors and waterways across the country, but Hansen says it's often spent on other projects. "We are trying to get them to use it for what it is intended for," said Hansen.