April 25, 2013 — New Buffalo Harbor will be open for boating this season. This year Lake Michigan water levels are at an all-time low – and levels are expected to continue dropping this summer, adversely affecting boating throughout the Great Lakes. Despite this, New Buffalo Mayor Warren Peterson is resolute, "safe navigation in New Buffalo Harbor is a top priority of the City of New Buffalo."
Taking action, the City of New Buffalo has awarded Donkersloot and Sons Marine the bid to dredge New Buffalo Harbor at the City Transient Marina boat slips and the Launch Access Channel (the Galien River from the Whittaker Street Bridge to the City Boat Launch; see map below.) Work has a revised start date of Wednesday, May 1, and is expected to take approximately seven weeks. This area was last dredged over ten years ago.
Boaters continue using the City Boat Launch as dredging work progresses.
The Federal Navigation Channel (the Galien River from the Whittaker Street Bridge to the Harbor mouth at Lake Michigan,) will be dredged by a contractor from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This work is expected to begin the middle of June. U.S. Senator Carl Levin announced on his website that funding for this project is from Superstorm Sandy relief (see the USACE soundings from after the storm in November 2012.) The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers performed soundings on the Federal Navigation Channel in March. Always use caution when navigating in and out of the harbor. Conditions change – use this chart only as a guide.
Dredging the City Transient Marina boat slips and the Launch Access Channel is being funded by a Waterways Grant as part of the State of Michigan's Emergency Dredging Plan states that the total average annual economic impact of registered boats on Michigan's economy yields: $3.9 billion in trip and craft spending, $1.9 billion in value added, $1.3 billion in personal income, and 51,329 jobs.
The economic impact of New Buffalo Harbor on all of Harbor Country is also monumental. The Harbor generates over $7.7 million in revenue throughout the area, which supports 130 jobs, and those jobs generate $2.5 million annually in labor income (source: New Buffalo Harbor Fact Sheet, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, 2010.)
The Waterways Grant amount will be determined by the quantity dredged, but it is expected to be over $300,000. In a public-private partnership, the boat slips of Harbor Pointe Shores will also be dredged by the City's contract as Launch Access Channel is dredged. Harbor Pointe Shores is paying over $100,000 for this work, including shared engineering and mobilization costs, saving the City an estimated $20,000.
Dredging costs not covered by the federal government, the Waterways Grant Program, or Harbor Pointe Shores are covered by a grant from The Pokagon Fund.
The City is grateful Congress is again funding dredging of the Federal Navigation Channel, which they last funded in 2010. In 2011 and 2012, the City of New Buffalo dredged the Federal Navigation Channel thanks to grants from The Pokagon Fund and funding from the City's Emergency Harbor Dredging Fund (a fund by contributions from the City and harbor associations, i.e. The Moorings, Oselka Marina, South Cove, Harbor Landings, Harbor Pointe Shores, Lake Michigan Yacht Club, Dunewood, and Pleasure Isle Marina.)
Since 2009, approximately $600,000 has been spent to keep just the Federal Navigation Channel open ($274,000 from The Pokagon Fund; $217,000 from Congress; and about $109,000 from the City's Emergency Harbor Dredging Fund.) The USACE budget request for New Buffalo Federal Navigation Channel dredging in fiscal year 2013 is $270,000.
The City of New Buffalo is very grateful for the support we have received from our boating community, The Pokagon Fund, Senator Carl Levin, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Congressman Fred Upton, Governor Rick Snyder, State Senator John Proos and Representative Dave Pagel.
Comprehensive harbor maintenance funding reform is needed. The City supports the efforts of Senator Carl Levin, Senator Debbie Stabenow, and Congressman Fred Upton, to get the RAMP Act or a similar measure approved by Congress.
Part of comprehensive harbor maintenance funding reform includes investment in repairing New Buffalo Harbor's federal breakwater infrastructure, and designating the Launch Access Channel as part of the Federal Navigation Channel. Please help us by calling your federal elected officials to voice your support.
In the meantime, with the generous support of with our community partners, the City of New Buffalo will keep our harbor open. Enjoy this summer in New Buffalo, the heart of Harbor Country!
In case you missed it, New Buffalo's harbor dredging situation was featured in the USA TODAY story "Low water levels bedevil Great Lakes harbors." New Buffalo Harbor will be featured on a WGN news story about low water levels on Wednesday, May 1, at 10:00 PM Eastern Time. Don't miss it!
This page last updated on 12/19/2013.