FRUITLAND TWP. – 2020 has been a memorable year for Michigan; in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic the state has been plagued with high water levels in the Great Lakes, which has played a role in land erosion in different parts of the state, and the worse-case scenario – homes falling into lakes.

Landowners living on the lakeshore may wish to reconsider doing so, or if moving isn’t an option at least consider taking steps to slow the erosion near their property. One solution to stop the erosion is to build a seawall, which can be expensive, but there might be a more economical solution.

NorthShore Property Solutions recently wrapped up a big project off of Murray Road near the Whitehall side of the White Lake Channel using a method that uses gigantic sandbags known as geotubes. The geotubes are between 20 and 30-feet long, with a height of 3-feet each, and can be stacked for a maximum height of 9-feet to make a low-cost seawall.

Project manager Caleb Kozicki said a seawall can run a person somewhere in the ballpark of $150,000, but with geotubes a person is paying significantly less. Materials for a seawall can be between $1,200 to $3,000 a foot, but for the geotubes a person can expect somewhere between $200 to $250 a foot.

Plus, the geotubes are durable, Kozicki said a geotube can last between 20 to 30-years, and there are ways to extend that time using special coverings using a base bag and something called a “coconut roll” that protect them from UV radiation.

The use of geotubes is nothing new, but Kozicki said his company’s approach to using them for shoreline protection is. NorthShore Property Solutions have worked with individual property owners and municipalities to install them all across Muskegon and Oceana County, but are willing to travel, and have a project coming up in the City of St. Joseph.

Doing any sort of work on a sand dune or shoreline requires permits from Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE). NorthShore Property Solutions keeps an environmental consultant and engineer to help with the process of getting permits.

Kozicki said that the geotubes have the advantage of being installed in a modular fashion. Customers can start small with their geotubes to test them out and keep costs down, but if they need to they can have more bags stacked to increase the height at a later date.

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