By ANN BURCH
BENTON HARBOR — An irrigation system to draw 450,000 gallons nightly from the Paw Paw River for the proposed Harbor Shores golf course drew firm opposition in a public hearing Wednesday night.
“I can’t help but think it would have an impact on the fish and wildlife,” said Benton Harbor resident Nicole Moon. “I’ve seen Ox Creek almost bone dry this summer. Everyone I know that comes to this area doesn’t come for golf. They come for the water and the beauty of the lake shore.”
In addition, many of the 20 in attendance spoke against the proposed location of three holes in Jean Klock Park, though the hearing did not involve the park. There were additional comments about the course’s environmental impact.
“I have serious concerns about the impact of fertilizers on the fish, the watershed and birds,” said Bette Pierman of Benton Township. “If the DEQ is for environmental quality, then these permits don’t show me that you’re working for the environment and the people who live here.”
The hearing at the Michigan Works! office was set to let people review the irrigation and well proposal and comment on the project. Written comment will also be taken for the next 10 days.
The Harbor Shores Community Redevelopment Corp. is seeking a permit from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to install an intake structure in the Paw Paw River and a pumphouse. The
unit would be along Klock Road, about a quarter-mile east of Michigan 63.
The intake would be a 40foot-long pipe, 20 feet into the river. A coffer dam would be installed to allow the work to be done. The dam would remain in place to protect the pipe from floating debris, said the DEQ’s Ben Zimont.
The pipe will be 28 inches in diameter. Eight feet will be perforated to slow down water velocity to keep out newly hatched fish, Zimont said.
Buoys would be tied to the intake to mark its location for boaters and to allow the pipe to fluctuate with river elevations. The well would be installed about 20 feet upland.
The proposal calls for a nightly irrigation cycle of seven to eight hours.
Michael Kuhn, an irrigation consultant from Auburn Hills, told the audience that the Southwestern Michigan area requires about 7.08 inches of supplemental irrigation from April through September. Water usage would total about 25 million gallons annually and 29 million gallons during drought years. Kuhn, working for Harbor Shores Redevelopment, said the draw down on the river would be less than 1 or 2 inches.
Kuhn said a 200-foot deep test well was drilled into the golf course site last spring in hopes of using the groundwater. Kuhn said the groundwater contained “tremendous levels of salt” and could not be used to irrigate greens.
Under the Great Lakes Preservation Act of 2006, Harbor Shores would be required to register with the DEQ and report its use annually because the project would pump more than 100,000 gallons daily over 30 days.
Kuhn said the irrigation system would be set to not spray on the dune or wetland area, and no chemicals will be injected into the irrigation system.
The city of Benton Harbor municipal water supply could also be another option, Kuhn said. But Bob McFeeter with Harbor Shores said city water would be too costly for the project.
Written comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.Include the file number 07-11-0062-P on the correspondence.