Great Lakes Environmental Directory Great Lakes Great Lakes environment Great Lakes grants exotic species water pollution water export drilling environment Great Lakes pollution Superior Michigan Huron Erie Ontario ecology Great Lakes issues wetlands Great Lakes wetlands Great Lakes Great Lakes environment Great Lakes watershed water quality exotic species Great Lakes grants water pollution water export oil gas drilling environment environmental Great Lakes pollution Lake Superior Lake Michigan Lake Huron Lake Erie Lake Ontario Great Lakes ecology Great Lakes issues Great Lakes wetlands Great Lakes Resources Great Lakes activist Great Lakes environmental organizations Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat air pollution alien species threatened rare endangered species ecological Great Lakes information Success Stories Great Lakes Directory Home/News Great Lakes Calendar Great Lakes jobs/volunteering Search Great Lakes Organizations Take Action! Contact Us Resources/Links Great Lakes Issues Great Lakes News Article About Us Networking Services

Great Lakes Article:

A better water plan: Holland, Laketown, others must work together toward intake plant
The Grand Rapids Press

The environmental disruption from a proposed water plant in Saugatuck Dunes State Park could put plans for the facility permanently on ice. Given the potential negatives, that's probably best. The fragile park was never the ideal location for a water intake. The City of Holland and Laketown Township want to construct nearly identical and separate water plants there. Instead, they should work together to find an alternative. While they're at it, the two should seek cooperation from other governments. The growing need for water in Ottawa and Allegan counties must be addressed on a broader scale.

The threat to the state park results from plans submitted to the state Department of Natural Resources by Holland and Laketown. The governments want to trade property they each own for a 35-acre parcel in the park. They each propose using the land to build a treatment plant, run a pipeline down to the lake and build a pumping station by the water. There isn't room for both, so if the DNR took one application, it would have to deny the other.

Recently, the DNR's Parks and Recreation Bureau recommended rejecting Laketown's application. A letter from the bureau cited serious environmental problems. Laketown has said it will revise its application and try again, but given the DNR's sweeping concerns, a workable plan is difficult to imagine. The pumping station would be "detrimental to the natural resources," the letter stated, adding, "The size, location and amount of space and depth needed to construct a water intake system in a fragile area will have significant and permanent negative resource impact to this dune system." Large underground pipes and an access road would "cause major damage to the forested dune system."

Still pending before the agency is Holland's separate but nearly identical application for a Saugatuck Dunes water intake. Though the agency hasn't ruled on Holland's proposal, the reservations articulated about the Laketown plan seem to apply there as well. That makes it unlikely that either proposal would -- or should -- be approved.

Both governments can make compelling cases that growth will demand new water intake and filtration plants in the not-too-distant future. Neither has made a convincing argument that its plant needs to go in the middle of Saugatuck Dunes. The park is a relatively small 900 acres.

The trails and beach are intended for the quiet enjoyment of nature. The kind of construction Holland and Laketown propose would seriously disrupt that purpose. Other locations for a water pumping and filtration plant need to be thoroughly explored.

In addition, Holland and Laketown should be working cooperatively, instead of at cross purposes. There is no good explanation for the dueling applications the two have submitted, except possibly ongoing tensions between Holland and surrounding governments. The future promises more growth in Ottawa. That argues for other governments joining this discussion. Without collaboration, the lakeshore could easily become a crisscrossing maze of pipes -- one each for every city and township along its length.

Unlike some western and eastern states, Michigan doesn't presently face a water shortage.

The problem is how best to reach this resource and how to prudently plan for the future. Public parks like Saugatuck Dunes should be among the last places governments look to accomplish that goal.

First on their agendas should be minimizing the disruption of the lakeshore and maximizing the ability to serve several locations at once. Those standards should guide Holland and Laketown as they move forward.

© 2002 Grand Rapids Press. Used with permission

This information is posted for nonprofit educational purposes, in accordance with U.S. Code Title 17, Chapter 1,Sec. 107 copyright laws.
For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for
purposes of your own that go beyond "fair use," you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Great Lakes environmental information

Return to Great Lakes Directory Home/ Site Map