Dredging Of Lake Elkhorn In Columbia Delayed At Least A Month

August 30, 2009|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,larry.carson@baltsun.com

The first major dredging of sediment since Lake Elkhorn was built in the mid-1970s has been delayed at least a month, Columbia Association officials say.

The $5.2 million project to remove 60,000 cubic yards of silt from Columbia's largest lake was to have begun by late August, but CA contract administrator Diana Kelley said Tuesday night at the Owen Brown Community Center that none of the four bids submitted in July were acceptable and that a new round of bidding is under way.

She said four new bids based on revised specifications are being evaluated. If acceptable offers are found, the job, which would pull more than 5,000 dump truck loads of silt out of the water, dry it and haul it away, could begin by October.

The changes in the plan are relatively minor, and if revised permits are needed, work can begin in some areas while those permits are sought, officials said.

"It's been a long, hard road, and we are here," Kelley told the group, which was greeted by Andy Stack, the Owen Brown Village Board chairman who organized the meeting.

To reduce costs and offer more options to contractors, the Columbia Association reduced the area to be dredged and divided the job into pieces. For example, less dredging will take place in the forebay, the pond east of the lake's origination point at the opposite end from the concrete dam near Broken Land Parkway. Work there will be done by a backhoe scraping muck away, rather than by suction dredging, which will be used for the rest of the job, Kelley said. Two sediment islands at the pond's mouth will be left untouched, and should help filter the water before it enters the lake, officials said.

Only the shallow eastern end of the lake through the Elkhorn Landing townhouse development, the wood dock area, the pond below the dam and several places where sediment islands have built up will be dredged, said Chick Rodehamel, vice president and director of open space for the Columbia Association.

He termed the changes in the contracts "subtle" and said they would not affect the job's major elements. Dredge spoil would be carried via pipeline to the grassy area near Broken Land Parkway, which is to be a staging area for the months-long project. Depending on which options are chosen, the paved path along the south side of the lake might be closed for use by contractors. When the work is complete, everything will be returned to its original appearance, Rodehamel said.

"There are not going to be trucks going up and down Rustling Leaf" in Hopewell, he added, referring to an early controversy in the five-year-old dredging saga. "We still have an opportunity to stick to the schedule."

One resident criticized the idea of spending more than $5 million and not dredging the entire lake, but Rodehamel said the job would remove 80 percent of the sediment and much of the algae that flourishes in the nutrient-rich silt, coating the shallow eastern end with a green covering.

Another resident pointed out that the Columbia Association's practice of washing goose excrement from the dock into the lake worsens bacteria levels and promotes algae growth, but Rodehamel offered no plan to control the rising population of resident geese.

Once Lake Elkhorn dredging is arranged, Kelley said the plan is to take a similar amount of sediment from Lake Kittamaqundi in Town Center. A suctioning of 24,000 cubic yards of silt is to be carried out at the smaller Wilde Lake.

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