designed to save dunes
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hopes the project will halt
By Zac Anderson
The Holland Sentinel
They've tried sea walls and riprap but Lake Michigan's
shoreline bluffs continue to erode.
Now the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is experimenting
along Allegan County's waterfront with a procedure the
agency hopes will put a stop to shriveling shorelines,
or at least add to the arsenal of existing prevention
The "bluff dewatering project," is exactly
what it sounds like. Instead of the traditional focus
on wave erosion, Army engineers plan to drain ground water
and other forms of moisture that can cause instability
inside a bluff.
"Basically they're going to dig some wells and pump
out the water so the ground will be drier," said
Lynn Duerod, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers in Detroit.
The project is the first of its kind anywhere in the
country, Duerod said.
The new focus attacks internal erosion caused by moisture
buildup on layers of clay that rest between the sand and
soil in a typical bluff. Duerod said that slippery clay
can shift, causing cracks and faults in a bluff.
"The whole thing kind of tilts forward and eventually
it will tilt enough to break off," Duerod said. "We
never know how much will drop off at one time."
The project is one of many across the state that tackle
different aspects of shoreline erosion, said Martin Jannereth,
chief of the Great Lakes shoreline section of the Michigan
Department of Environmental Quality.
"Ground water seepage in certain areas can be a
major cause of bluff erosion," Jannereth said. "The
problem has been around for a while but this work should
help provide some solutions."
Army Corps engineers and researchers at Western Michigan
University will monitor the test wells over the next four
years and document the level of erosion. Wells are being
dug at three Allegan County sites, including Miami Park
South, Miami Park North and a site along 116th Street.
The project is funded by a $2.3 million federal appropriation.