November 1, 2014
Our View

Pine River dredging important for flood prevention

Posted

Since the office of the county drain commissioner announced it would be reactivating the long-dormant rolls for the Clam Drain — commonly known as the mouth of the Pine River — for dredging purposes, people all along the river have been questioning the necessity of the work. To prevent future flooding issues, however, we think it is an entirely reasonable project.

It’s no secret that water levels in Lake Huron and in the connecting rivers have been low for years now. Not only is this bad for boating and recreation, but in instances like this past winter, where low waters caused an ice jam at the river mouth, they can lead to disaster. Had temperatures started to rise with that ice jam in place, Drain Commissioner Larry Davis believes water farther upriver would have had no place to go, and the Pine River would have started flooding its banks.

Despite the substantial precipitation we received earlier this year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers does not expect water levels to come back to historical averages anytime soon, so it’s important to take steps to prepare for the worst-case scenario and prevent another ice jam — and possible subsequent flood — from occurring.

To prevent another jam, the drain office wants to dredge the river mouth, letting the water flow faster and more freely out into the Saginaw Bay and reducing the flood risk. We think this would be very beneficial for residents in the area, particularly with the Federal Emergency Management Agency interested in revising flood maps around here. Suffering a flood because of an ice blockage would not be helpful for anyone trying to avoid buying flood insurance, particularly when the cost of the drain assessment per person is likely going to be so low, since the district spans five townships, a city and a village.

It is likely that dredging would be disruptive in the short-term for the wildlife on the river mouth, and it may not help access to the bay itself for boats if water levels remain low. If it keeps a flood from happening down the line, however, it seems like it would be well worth the cost and effort.

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