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Watershed District to reapply for bonding funds for dredging next year

Final phase of project could be delayed depending on outcome of bonding bill next year

The Shell Rock River Watershed District administrator said Wednesday the district will reapply for state bonding funds next year to complete the Fountain Lake dredging after the project was not included in this year’s bill.   

Administrator Andy Henschel said the second phase of the dredging project is expected to be completed in 2021, and if a bonding bill is not passed next year — or the project is not included in the bill — the third and final phase of the project could be delayed until the funding is received. 

“We’re very disappointed that we didn’t get in the bonding bill,” Henschel said. “We thought of the three projects, this would be a priority for the community.” 

Dredging began in 2018 in Fountain Lake’s Edgewater Bay using a previous bonding appropriation of $7.5 million and local option sales tax funds of $9.5 million and has continued each year since. Earlier this year, the second phase of the project began when dredging moved from Edgewater Bay to the main bay of Fountain Lake and Dane Bay. 

Henschel said as of last Friday, dredging and marine construction company J.F. Brennan Co. had removed about 293,000 cubic yards of sediment this year. The company will wrap up dredging for the year on Friday and then start winterizing its equipment. 

He said a little over 300,000 cubic  yards of sediment is left to be dredged in the second phase, which would get the dredge through roughly two-thirds of the lake. 

An additional $7.5 million is needed to complete the final phase of the project, which includes dredging of the east basin of Fountain Lake’s main bay — from near City Beach to the Fountain Lake Dam — along with limited dredging of Bancroft Bay. He estimated this phase would take 1 1/2 to two years to complete. 

The district previously stated more funding was necessary to allow for additional sediment to be dredged from the lake than initially planned. Costs per cubic yard were also higher than initially expected when the district previously requested bonding funds. 

Henschel urged community members to reach out to the the area’s local representatives and encourage them to support the project for bonding next year to complete the project.