MORE DREDGING INFORMATION AND PLAN PROGRESS
Well, summer is now only a memory, and the fall season is now at its mid-point. Your Board of Directors and Lake Management Committee, and many involved RRA members, have continued to work toward what will be the most significant, the most well-planned, and the most needed program in the 46 year history of our lake, a dredging program that will restore our lake’s water quality to what it was in the 1960s and 1970s.
This is the third in a series of Lake Management Committee reports to give our members as much information as possible about the dredging program currently being planned. In our first segment, we discussed why dredging is needed. Last month, we reported on a very productive and informative LMC meeting held in early September during which Tom Grabow, the ODNR Regional Dredge Supervisor of ODNR’s canal lakes region (northwest Ohio), told us about what the State of Ohio is doing to restore water quality at Grand Lake St. Marys.
But before we report on recent progress, let’s revisit the dredging clock. Like our Federal deficit, the clock is running. With the rains of the fall season, nutrient-rich sediment continues to flow into our lake. On average, since our last LMC article, another football field sized area was covered with new sediment to a depth of 1½ feet, smothering our lake bottom and continuing to feed nutrient-rich sediment into our precious lake’s ecosystem.
Recap of September 29th LMC meeting. Your LMC chair, and Board President Barry O’Connell, teamed up to present the powerpoint program given previously by Tom Grabow, and to provide detailed cost projections of the planned dredging program. About 15 to 20 members attended. The re-presentation of Tom’s program gave those in attendance who were not able to attend the first presentation, some insight into what the State of Ohio is doing to improve the water quality of Grand Lake St. Marys. The State has determined that there is no alternative to dredging, and they currently have three hydraulic dredges operating on that lake. The program will probably run indefinitely.
Despite some nay-sayers in our community, Tom made it crystal clear that the State’s position is that the only way to effectively address the problem is to remove the source of the nutrients that feed the blue-green algae, that being the sediment that has accumulated on the lake bottom. Let’s stop pretending otherwise and stick with the facts.
Finances. Those who are promoting the dredging program understand that the cost of the program is on everyone’s mind. Barry’s presentation presented an overview of the finances. The cash flow projections indicate that at the favorable interest rates that have been negotiated, the capital costs of the dredging program can be paid off over a 15 year time frame, and there are no plans to increase the current Lake Management assessment. If interest rates increase, the time required to pay back the principal will increase, but the annual payments will not. Thus, the assessment can be held constant.
The financial projections indicate that the capital cost will be around $1.3 million, and annual operating cost will be around $100,000. The target startup remains September, 2013.
Recent Trip to Ellicott Dredging. Three Board members, Barry O’Connell, Rick Rumbaugh, and Tim O’Donnell, took time out of their busy schedules to travel to Ellicott Dredging’s manufacturing facility in Wisconsin. They met with Ellicott personnel, observed the fabrication of hydraulic dredges similar to what the Association is planning to purchase, and discussed such details as support equipment, fusing of pipe, pumping rates, booster pumps, and other items.
It has recently become clear that we need to be able to pump sediment up to 7500 feet, maybe more, and that a booster pump will be needed. There seems to be no way to avoid the need to incorporate a booster pump into the planning process. It has also become evident that an 8 inch dredge seems to be the optimum size. Going to a larger diameter pump will increase cost, but not eliminate the need for a booster pump.
Engineering Firm Engaged. Chagrin Valley Engineering has been contracted to design the DMRAs, determine the best means to return the clarified water to our lake, and work through the permitting process with the US Army Corps of Engineers. The LMC chair, and Board President Barry O’Connell, recently met with CVE to discuss details of the design plans and agree upon a strategy to see to it that the program speeds its way through the design, review, and approval process.
The plan is to have designs submitted to the Corps around the end of the year, and to establish a project schedule that will have DMRAs constructed on the former Manzo property in the coming months. In the meantime, the Board is also investigating other properties further south that would provide the opportunity to begin dredging the south end of our lake sooner than would have seemed possible only a few months ago.
Once again I state that to those impacted by poor water quality (that’s any member who is paying attention); to those who have been choked by the growth of invasive and noxious weeds; and those who have seen their formerly lakefront property turned into swamp-front property, take heart, speak up loudly, support what we are doing, and don’t let those few nay-sayers drown out your voice for high quality lake water in all areas. Let’s continue to work toward returning Lake Roaming Rock to a condition that we can all enjoy without being concerned about aesthetic or health issues.
Lake Management Committee Chair