Editorial: Approve permits to move dredging project forward

Published 10:02 am Friday, October 21, 2016

The Shell Rock River Watershed District Board of Managers earlier this month indicated to state agencies that it was ready to proceed with the dredging of Fountain Lake. 

After years of research, preparation and work in other bodies of water that flow into the lake, the district is ready to begin the construction of the disposal sites where the dredged sediment will be placed.

We encourage the Department of Natural Resources to move forward with the permit necessary to get the project started.

One of the key issues surrounding the project is regarding the confined disposal facility that will be used to manage sediment removed from the lake. When dredging takes place, a mixture of water and sediment will be pumped to the disposal facility, and the site will settle and siphon off the water.

It has been determined that four cells will be needed to put the 1.7 million cubic yards of sediment removed from the lake, but presently three cells have been designed and are ready to be built to hold an estimated 1.2 million cubic yards.

District officials have said they think the state should sign off on the start of the first three cells so the project doesn’t get held up while plans for the fourth cell are completed.

We agree.

This project is anticipated to be a multi-year project, so we see no harm in moving forward with at least the first half of the project, while designs for that fourth cell are being completed.

The total project is expected to cost a maximum of $15 million and will be paid for with $7.5 million in state funding that has already been awarded and other money raised from a half-percent sales tax.

The dredging of Fountain Lake is a project Albert Lea residents have been looking forward to for years.

We believe it’s time to take the next step and proceed with this much-awaited project.