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State dredging program sets record

COLUMBUS – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) recently finished the 2016 dredging season, having removed more than 1 million cubic yards of dredge material from state park lakes and other state properties. The 1 million cubic yards of sediment is the most that has ever been removed in the history of the state’s dredging program.

ODNR Director James Zehringer attributes ODNR’s dredging success to the dedicated staff and the strategic use of available resources, which serves to improve boater access and water quality.

“ODNR remains committed to improving access to Ohio’s lakes and understands the vital role healthy waters play in all of Ohio’s communities,” Zehringer said. “Our comprehensive approach to dredging utilizes personnel and equipment in a manner that helps create safer waterways for boaters while working to provide cleaner lakes for Ohioans.”

In 2016, ODNR and private groups worked together to excavate and remove sediment from navigable waterways, including Buckeye Lake, Grand Lake St. Marys and Indian Lake. This practice increases navigability and water quality by removing phosphorus-rich sediment and increasing water depth. ODNR dredges removed enough material from Ohio’s lakes this year to fill 67,431 dump trucks, and if those dump trucks were lined up bumper to bumper, they would stretch 319 miles.

Buckeye Lake had a record year of dredging with 293,228 cubic yards being removed, which beat the 2015 record of 139,000 cubic yards. Grand Lake St. Marys also experienced a record-breaking year for removing dredge material by taking out 405,523 cubic yards of sediment, exceeding the 2015 record of 364,590 cubic yards.

Indian Lake removed 100,054 cubic yards of dredge material, also beating the 2015 record of 90,405 cubic yards. The area will likely see another increase next year, as Indian Lake will add another dredge during the 2017 season.

Other dredging sites included East Harbor, Findley, Lake Loramie and Rocky Fork state parks. The next dredging season will begin in April 2017.

Editor’s Note: Let’s put that record Buckeye Lake total in perspective. At full pool, Buckeye Lake covers 2,800 acres. With 4,840 square yards in an acre, a full pool Buckeye Lake covers 13,552,000 square yards.

To lower the depth by one inch over the entire full pool surface requires the removal of approximately 375,000 cubic yards. The record 2016 Buckeye Lake removal was 293,228 cubic yards which is just under 13/16ths of an inch.

Unfortunately, the net gain is probably about 1/2 inch when you consider the sediment flowing into the lake. Without additional dredging equipment and longer operating hours, it would take about 24 years to add one foot of water over the entire full pool surface.

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