Friday, September 07, 2007

Some residents criticize Harbor Shores plan at public hearing

H-P Correspondent
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 the file number 07-11-0062-P on the correspon­dence.