Saugatuck businesses continue dealing with high water levels and flood concerns

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The Mermaid Bar and Grill has a wall of sand bags lining their outdoor seating area.{ }(WWMT/Will Haenni)

High river and lake levels continue to cause headaches for some Saugatuck business owners along the Kalamazoo River waterfront.

Restaurants like Coral Gables and the Mermaid Bar and Grill lined parts of their outdoor dining area with sandbags. Workers said the flooding in parking lots and on boat docks had actually improved slightly since a few weeks prior.

Dockside parking spots became even more scarce because of flooding in parking lots where spots were already hard to snag. Various employees at the dockside marina store front on Water Street said water had almost made it up through the floor boards during the peak of the flooding.

Gas powered water pumps were used by a restaurant to pull water from underneath their building's dock-style floor.

Visitors at the Ship N Shore Hotel mentioned some first floor rooms had been closed due to flooding. On the west side of the channel, opposite the main downtown area, some condos also dealt with flooding on the lower levels.

Jason Timmer, who works with Makin' Waves Boat Rentals, said so far their business hasn't been hurt too bad. Others weren't as fortunate.

“Everybody’s building new docks just because nobody can walk on their docks anymore." Timmer said. "We’re lucky enough we had a couple of inches on our dock where we didn’t have to build a new one."

He said the water level can sometimes fluctuate considerably in a matter of minutes. The opening or closing of a dam upstream in Allegan, heavy rainfall, and strong waves on Lake Michigan can all contribute to large swells.

In order to prevent any waves from splashing onto boardwalks, the no-wake zone in the Kalamazoo River channel was being enforced more strictly than ever, according to some local boaters.

In the latest report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Lake Michigan-Huron water table was within inches of the all time record for July, set back in 1986. Hydrologists forecast an additional two inch rise in levels between July 10, 2019, and August 5.

Meanwhile, business owners were hoping for more warm sunny days. They planned on leaving their sandbags in place during the summer or until a more significant drop occurred.