ALGOMA - Mike Cole and his crews made quick work dredging roughly 15,000 cubic yards of material from the Algoma marina.
"We didn't have too many breakdowns and delays from the weather," said Cole, back in Algoma Monday to check on a few things before heading back up to Bailey's Harbor in Door County, where his company Iron Works Construction is based.
"So, we actually never had a delay from the weather. We worked through every day that we could."
Starting in mid-December, the marina is now at a depth of about 7 feet. But even that is dependent on where the lake's water levels are each day. Lake Michigan's low water levels and sediment buildup caused the city of Algoma to dredge its marina - again.
Cole says it's a problem he's seeing in harbors and marinas along the Lakeshore – from Milwaukee to Door County.
"People are procrastinators and they wait," said Cole. "The water dropped a bunch last fall and then everybody that noticed that, they had to do something."
"So, if we did nothing, we lost that business and our economy begins to suffer," said Mark Lentz.
Lentz is the public works director for the city of Algoma.
Between this project and a 2010 dredging, the city has spent more than half a million dollars to ensure its marina remains navigable. Lentz says the dredging is vital to ensure the tourism and fishing industry continue in the city with a population of a little more than 3,100.
"The people that come over here to fish, they're going to fish," said Lentz. "They're going to find someplace to get their vessels in Lake Michigan. And if they can't do it in Algoma, they're going to go somewhere else."
Lentz says there's a valid concern among residents and elected officials that more and more city dollars are being spent for a project that has to be done again and again. That is why Lentz says the city is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to find a solution to the continued sediment deposits.
"We know there's sediment in the marina. We know there's sediment in the river, the Ahnapee River," said Lentz. "What we don't know is where is the bulk of it coming from?"
Lentz admits once the source is found, it's probably going to cost a lot of money to fix it.
The Army Corps of Engineers says it expects the lake's water levels to continue to drop. Last month, Lakes Michigan and Huron reached their lowest levels since records started in 1918. Little rain, snowfall and higher temperatures over the past 10 years are believed to be contributing factors.
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