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Dredging Roundup / NORTH AMERICA Jan/Feb 2016

A working barge dredges sediment from the bottom of Waurika Lake. The dredging operation will last several months and will remove nearly 80,000 cubic yards of sediment that has built up along the intake channel of Waurika Lake since its impoundment in 1977.

A working barge dredges sediment from the bottom of Waurika Lake. The dredging operation will last several months and will remove nearly 80,000 cubic yards of sediment that has built up along the intake channel of Waurika Lake since its impoundment in 1977.

Photos Courtesy of the Corps of Engineers, by Brannen Parrish

TULSA DISTRICT DREDGES LAKE FOR WATER STORAGE

The U.S. Corps of Engineers Tulsa District announced November 3 that dredging commenced at Waurika Lake to reclaim water storage for six southwestern Oklahoma municipalities.

The dredging operation was the fruit of months of planning by the Waurika Lake Master Conservancy District (WLMCD), which requested approval from the Tulsa District to dredge the intake channel in 2014. Waurika Lake provides water to more than 275,000 people in six municipalities. In addition to water supply, Waurika Lake’s missions include flood control, irrigation, water quality, recreation and fish and wildlife.

At the time, the region was in a severe drought and Waurika Lake was 17 feet below the top of the conservation pool. Access to available water was limited by sedimentation in the intake channel, which reduced the volume of available water supply in the conservation pool by 68 percent.

“We had to cut everyone’s water usage by 10 percent and we were on the verge of cutting usage even more before the rains in May and June,” said Jack Jackson, president of the WLMCD, who has lived in the area since the 1950s. “We had never seen a drought that required those kinds of measures.”

The dredging operation will remove about 77,000 cubic yards of sediment from the intake channel that has built up since the impoundment that formed Waurika Lake began in 1977.

Waurika Lake was 20 feet below the top of the conservation pool when, unprecedented rainfall in May 2015 caused the lake to reach normal levels in only 22 days. The rainfall caused flooding throughout the Tulsa District, and prompted the Waurika Lake project office to begin flood control operations.

During the opening ceremony for the dredging operation, Lt. Col. Daniel Young, deputy commander of the Tulsa Engineer District, praised the WLMCD for moving forward with the dredging project after the summer floods.

Lieutenant Col. Daniel Young, deputy commander, Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, speaks during the opening ceremony for the Waurika Lake dredging project, November 3.

“Despite the return of water levels, the WLMCD decided to invest in the future of their water conservation resource,” said Young. “This project will remove nearly 77,000 cubic yards of sediment and improve the intake structures, reclaiming valuable storage space for Waurika Lake’s water conservation and flood risk management missions. You should be commended for your foresight and for your investment in the region’s water supply.”

The sediment is being pumped into a 17- acre containment area on WLMCD property.

SCHUMER GETS DREDGING FUNDS FOR OSWEGO, ROCHESTER HARBORS

New York’s Senator Charles “Chuck” Schumer announced December 16 that he had succeeded in adding $1.28 million to the federal omnibus funding bill for dredging the harbor of Oswego, New York. The harbor typically needs maintenance dredging every three or four years, but was last dredged in 2008.

The Oswego funding had been requested by the Corps of Engineers in its Fiscal Year 2016 Civil Works Budget.

The harbor generates about $7.2 million a year in recreational benefits and supports more than 111 local jobs, the city says.

Schumer also got $2.32 million in federal funding to dredge the Port of Rochester’s Harbor next year in to the omnibus funding bill.

Schumer said on his website that keeping the port dredged is critical for public safety, as the Rochester Harbor is a designated Critical Harbor of Refuge for Great Lakes vessels and the base of operations for the U.S. Coast Guard  Stat ion Rochester.

The harbor was last dredged in 2014, when 200,000 cubic yards of material were removed from Hurricane Sandy-impacted areas. According to the Corps, the harbor generates an annual $1.2 million in direct commercial revenue and supports 95 direct, indirect, and induced commercial harbor jobs that produce over $6.2 million per year in income.

CORPS CUTS $3.6 MILLION FROM CLEVELAND HARBOR DREDGING

In the latest move in a dispute between the Port of Cleveland and the Corps of Engineers over where to place dredged material, the Corps cut $3.6 million from its budget for dredging the Cuyahoga River navigation channel.

In response, the Port of Cleveland president and chief executive officer Will Friedman wrote to Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman to request actions to restore the funds, and to criticize what he called the Corps’ “troubling actions.”

The dispute’s key issue is the Corps’ desire to continue placing material dredged from the Cuyahoga River channel into a placement area in Lake Erie. But the port and local elected representatives oppose that, and have been backed up by court rulings.

In 2015, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency denied a Corps request for openlake certification. The denial was backed by a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Donald Nugent.

The dredging budget for the channel was recently set at $9.34 million as part of the federal omnibus spending bill, but Corps officials advised a Congressional appropriations committee to cut it by $3.6 million. In his letter to the two senators, Friedman said he believed the cuts were “an attempt to circumvent” Nugent’s order. “We believe that this action will only complicate and endanger 2016 Cuyahoga River navigation channel dredging,” he said.

The dredging issue is urgent, because shipping has increased dramatically at the port—by more than 300 percent in total tonnage since 2014, and by 500 percent in containerized cargo.

MIKE HOOKS INC. WINS $6.1 MILLION CONTRACT

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District awarded a $6,104,050 contract to Mike Hooks Inc., on November 11 for maintenance dredging of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW) navigation channel from the Galveston Causeway to Bastrop Bayou in Galveston in Galveston County, Texas.

The contractor is required to remove about 1,035,000 cubic yards of maintenance material from this 25-mile reach of the GIWW using a pipeline dredge.

As part of the contract, about 130,000 cubic yards of maintenance material will be used beneficially to create 70 acres of marsh within the Pierce Marsh area and 12,000 linear feet of earthen berms will be constructed to contain the material.

Seth Jones, an operations manager with Galveston Engineer District’s Navigation Branch, said, “Our project delivery team included the Galveston Bay Foundation, Texas Parks and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Texas General Land Office and the Texas Department of Transportation. It was because of their instrumental input throughout the design phase that we are going to get a good start on the Galveston Bay Foundation’s longterm marsh restoration plan at Pierce Marsh complex.”

The restoration funds came from the settlement of Natural Resource Damage Assessment liabilities from the nearby Malone Services and Tex Tin superfund sites and Martin Products, a 2003 acid spill that occurred in the Texas City Channel.

Work began in November, with an estimated completion date of May 2016.

GALVESTON COMPLETES ‘ADJUSTED’ BEACH PROJECT

The Galveston (Texas) Park Board of Trustees announced November 20 that crews finished a $23 million beach expansion begun in August that was adjusted from the original 20-block plan due to lack of quality sand.

The original plan was to place about 725,000 cubic yards of sand, dredged from the Galveston Ship Channel, to improve the rocky shoreline between 61st and 81st streets.

A board spokeswoman said there was less beach quality material than expected in the channel. The project was adjusted to between 61st and 76th streets, using about 600,000 cubic yards.

The property is owned by Texas and managed by the park board. The project also involved the city and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

DRILLING FOR MARSH RESTORATION PROJECT

On October 19, the National Park Service (NPS) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began small-scale geotechnical drilling at Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve. This investigational drilling was to prepare for a proposed interagency project to restore up to 100 acres of freshwater tidal marsh within the 485-acre Dyke Marsh.

Dyke Marsh, managed by the George Washington Memorial Parkway, is home to more than 300 species of plants and 270 species of birds – including the only known breeding population of marsh wrens in the region.

A 2009 study of Dyke Marsh by the NPS and the U.S. Geological Society found that this unique ecosystem would be entirely lost by 2035 without restoration efforts. Drilling took place between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. daily and lasted about a week. The findings from sediment samples will help determine the stability and composition of the foundation for the proposed promontory and will help in the design of the project.

“Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve is one of the largest remaining freshwater, tidal wetlands in the Washington metro area,” said Alex Romero, superintendent of the George Washington Memorial Parkway. “Dyke Marsh has extensive value, not only for the flora and fauna that exist within, but for the recreational, educational and cultural values that the marsh provides. We are very excited to move forward with the first phase of the project to restore this very sensitive resource.”

The marsh has been altered through 40 years of mining and other human factors, leaving the area exposed to storm waves, susceptible to erosion, and unable to sustain itself.

In 2013, Congress recognized Dyke Marsh as an invaluable resource to the greater Washington region and allocated $24.9 million to restore the site.

The restoration efforts are anticipated to begin in the summer 2017 and expected to take four years. The wetlands at Dyke Marsh will be restored using clean sandy material and planted with native wetland vegetation. The peninsula to the south of the marsh that had been previously removed will also be restored

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