The Grand River Waterway proposal is not a typical harbor dredging project, but rather a river channelization project that would remove roughly 50 acres of shallow habitat through dredging portions of the Grand River in Kent and Ottawa counties. The project seeks to create a 7-foot deep channel through a 22.5-mile stretch of the Grand River between Grand Rapids and Bass River State Recreation Area near Eastmanville.
The Grand River Waterway economic impact study stated that river channelization via dredging will “help return the river to its natural state” and that “increased recreational opportunities and improved water quality may generate up to 49,000 net new visitor days annually … and an annual net new economic impact of up to $5.7 million.” Research suggests that dredging will not improve water quality. A more likely scenario is reduced water quality, increased erosion of private and public land, increased deposition of sand and silt in certain areas, and harm to fish and wildlife populations. This paper deals specifically with physical and biological impacts, but it is important to note that these have economic implications, as well.