South Haven City Council considering reintroduction of lifeguards at local beaches


The South Haven City Council is considering the reintroduction of a lifeguard program at the city’s beaches.

At a Monday workshop, members heard from Dave Benjamin of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, who said drowning is a major public health issue that too often goes overlooked. He told the council the biggest obstacle to getting a lifeguard program is simply developing the will to do it.

“You guys need to commit,” Benjamin said. “No more meetings to have meetings about meetings because we’re having that meeting right now. You say, ‘Yes, we’re doing lifeguards. This is our deadline,’ and suddenly you start taking actions to make that the future that actually happens. But as long as we say we need to keep bringing in more specialists, have more roundtables, you’re dragging it. And unfortunately, that is what has happened since 2020, and many more people have drowned.”

Benjamin said he hears from too many families who have lost a loved one to drowning. He urged the city to bring lifeguards to the beaches this summer.

City Manager Kate Hosier has warned there are high costs associated with starting such a program. The city hasn’t had lifeguards in more than two decades. The old program was ended due to those costs.

The city council could consider the creation of a new lifeguard program at a priorities meeting on March 11.