New dredging firm sought for Lake Elkhorn

Work to remove mud stopped in December after contract dispute

May 04, 2011|By Larry Carson, The Baltimore Sun

The Columbia Association is looking for a new contractor to complete the dredging of Lake Elkhorn, where a contract dispute and lawsuit left the $5.3 million job incomplete.

Mobile Pumping and Dredging Co. of Chester, Pa., began the job in late 2009 and stopped for the winter in December, but work never resumed this spring after the Columbia Association decided not to extend the firm's contract. In March, the company removed its equipment.

CA officials have abandoned negotiations with Cashman Dredging and Marine Contracting on a contract to complete the work, and the homeowners association says it plans to request new bids by late May. The company is working on a similar project at Lake Kittamaqundi.

Under state regulations, work cannot begin until after fish spawning season is over June 15, according to a statement from CA President Phil Nelson. Officials of the homeowners association declined to comment further because of a continuing lawsuit.

Mobile has a $1 million lawsuit against the Columbia Association pending in Howard County Circuit Court, contending that Columbia officials last measured the sediment in the lake in 2006 and failed to account for years of heavy storms that substantially increased amount of mud on the lake's bottom before dredging began. Mobile alleges that the association has not paid for all of the work done on the project.

The homeowners association sought to have the suit dismissed on technical grounds, but a judge denied the motion March 11 and a judicial status conference is scheduled for July 11.

To complete the job at Lake Elkhorn, which was built in 1974, dredging must continue at the small pond near the lake's source at its eastern end, around the public dock area off Cradlerock Way and below the concrete dam. Officials have said that algae that has clogged the surface in recent years will likely return quickly despite the dredging because of chemical runoff into the lake.

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