For the past two years, an 800-foot line of large green barrel-shaped barriers have lined South Beach to prevent erosion along Lake Michigan in South Haven.
Considered a must to save the beach, but an eyesore to others, HESCO Barriers are disappearing.
South Haven Public Works Department workers have made it a priority over the past week to remove sand-filled truss structures from South Beach and areas around the city’s sewage treatment plant on Wells Street.
“By the time the beach reopens for the summer, they will be removed,” Public Works Department Director Bill Hunter said.
Removing the containers and smoothing out the sand they left behind is a time-consuming process, he said.
Two years ago, installing the containers involved digging trenches in the sand to help anchor each container. Once the containers were in place, they were then filled with sand, serving in the same way as large sandbags.
“We try to save them, but they’re not really designed for that,” Hunter said.
The city spent $32,000 in early 2020 to purchase 1,400 feet of wire mesh HESCO flood barriers from the US Army Corps of Engineers to protect the sewage treatment plant, as well as the water filtration plant. water next to South Beach.
They did this to curb the flooding that was happening around the sewage treatment plant and the erosion in South Beach.
However, over the past two years, the record water levels of the Great Lakes have dropped significantly, prompting the city to remove barriers.
Data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shows Lake Michigan water levels have been dropping steadily since 2020. Lake Michigan and Lake Huron water levels in February still measured 9 inches above the long-term average – but it was 19 inches below the February 2021 level, and 28 inches below the February 2020 record high.
“The six-month forecast indicates that Lake Michigan-Huron will remain near its February through March level and begin its seasonal rise from April through July, before falling in August,” the Corps’ Detroit District office said. of Engineers in a press release.
Even though the lake level is expected to rise in the spring and summer, there is no need to put the HESCO barriers back in place at South Haven anytime soon.
“Over the next six months, water levels are expected to be 7 to 16 inches below last year’s level and 27 to 28 inches below record highs, which were set in 2020,” said reported the Corps of Engineers.
Lake Michigan’s average water levels still remain elusive at this point, according to the Corps of Engineers, which projects water levels will remain above long-term average levels by 6 to 9 inches for the next six months. month.