Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Sand filling Abbey Harbor
Should village help solve problem?

by Rob Ireland

October 13, 2011

FONTANA — When too much sand fills the Abbey Harbor, boats can’t always exit the marina and some boaters are pulling their watercrafts off of Geneva Lake to dock them in Lake Michigan.

During the Oct. 3 Village Board meeting, representatives from the Abbey Harbor asked trustees about sharing costs, without asking for a specific figure, for a study to determine why sand is drifting into the marina and possible ways to stop it.

The assumption is that waves wash the sand off the village’s beaches, the water then drags the sand into the harbor where it settles. In the past three years, the Abbey Marina had to dredge the harbor. Abbey Marina Harbor Master Eddie Snyder said the marina has removed 1,200 cubic yards of sand each year.

The Abbey Marina brought in John Wills, an engineer who specializes in water issues, to discuss the problem and said, if further studies are completed, he could present solutions to resolve the issue. Willis said the trick with finding a solution is creating one that fits within permitted uses. Snyder said the cost of the study is about $17,000.

“We want to develop a working relationship to remedy the issue,” Snyder said.

Snyder said he hopes to develop a cost sharing agreement between the village, the marina and Country Club Estates.

Village President Arvid “Pete” Petersen said the municipality owns the bridge that is over the channel, but it’s unclear whether the channel underneath the bridge is the village’s responsibility.

The creek where sand clogs the marina is located between the Fontana Public Beach and the County Club Estates Beach, which is owned by the village. The village annually adds sand to each beach.

At a good time, Snyder said the depth of the channel is between six and seven feet. In June, Snyder said the harbor dredged the channel down to about six feet, but it is currently only between 3-1/2 to four feet deep.

Although board members expressed an interest in being good neighbors, they want more information before they agree to spend tax dollars.

Petersen said in the 1960s and 1970s the channel in the Abbey Harbor didn’t have to be dredged on a regular basis. However, in recent years it has been needed.

Trustee Bill Gage said its only an assumption, and not a known fact, the sand is coming from the village’s beaches. Gage also emphasized that he hasn’t taken a strong stance on this issue, but feels there are questions that need to be answered before the village makes a decision.

“I think the thought is because the beach is there it’s all the village’s fault,” Gage said. “We have to do a little more studying so we understand it. I don’t think anyone knows definitively why its happening. It’s the same beach, same harbor and same lake.”

The Abbey Harbor isn’t a natural feature to Geneva Lake. It is man-made.

Gage said because the harbor isn’t a natural feature that raises more questions about whether the village should help fund a resolution to the sand issue.

The Abbey Marina was opened in 1963 and is the only protected marina on Lake Geneva, according to its website.

The marina has 407 moorings, the marina offers six transient slips for guest of the Abbey Resort. Each mooring has electrical, storage locker, wireless Internet access, water is located on all of the docks but not in each individual mooring.