The sites of former Sand Traps between First and Patterson are marked with gold
When Greg Purcell and I walked the Cuddy Drain from 1st St to Patterson early this summer, one of the things we looked for were the old Sand Traps. Russ Yarger, Barry County Drain Commissioner, told me there was one about 1000′ east of 1st; and sure enough, we could see remnants of an old road and a few old sand piles up on the bank! They even show up on Google Earth as the light grey mounds on the north side of the Drain, as seen in this image from 2011. They’ve been gone – but not forgotten!!
Any time moving water is carrying sediment/sand, it tends to drop it where the water slows down. Unfortunately for the Cuddy Channel residents, this ALWAYS happens where the Drain meets the Channel just below Patterson; and explains why the upstream Channel is so choked with sand, that boats can run aground. It’s REALLY expensive to dredge sediment out of the Channel using barge-mounted excavators – costs have been quoted from $20 to $30 per cubic yard.
Back in the 1980’s, at least one (and probably 2) Sand Traps were added to the lower Cuddy Drain. All that was involved was digging a deeper trench in the middle of the drain. That slowed the water enough, to get it to drop its burden of sand and sediment; (and here’s the beauty of a Sand Trap) and when it was “full” – it disappeared!! Greg and I walked right over the top of it – there’s no noticeable difference between it and any other area of the Drain. When it needs to be emptied – a land-based excavator can dig out the sediment for $2 to $3 per cubic yard – a HUGE cost savings!!
Bob Shaffer, former Barry County Drain Commissioner, said the Sand Traps were regularly maintained back then; but for whatever reason, that ceased. And that’s probably around the same time that Cuddy residents noticed the Channel was rapidly filling with sand. In late November of 2011, the Channel was dredged and 1700 cubic yards of sediment was removed. One year later, the area dredged had refilled with sediment. These costs are passed along to homeowners – they were not happy about facing these charges almost yearly.
Shoulder of 1st St washing out
Where does the sand and sediment come from?? Granted – the whole Cuddy Watershed contains sandy soil; but the recent “freshening” of 1st St in the fall of 2012 left raw sand shoulders along a gravel roadbed that washes a bit away with each heavy rain. Early this summer, Holly Vickers of the DEQ strongly recommended that these shoulders be “stabilized” with plantings; or better yet – that the Drain be protected from direct road runoff. To date – nothing has happened and one can STILL see where sand is eroding into the Drain.
Let’s add MORE sand where we already have a problem….
Furthermore, to add insult to injury; the Allegan County Road Commission blocked off 1st St in April 2013 by dumping HUGE piles of SAND in the road so cars can’t drive around the barricades. Of course, kids are playing on those piles, and it too is getting washed into the Drain with each rain….
We have never needed those Sand Traps more than we do right NOW.