The need for the annual Toledo harbor and shipping channel dredging program is understandable, but the disposal of the dredge material into the open lake is detrimental to western Lake Erie (“Toledo’s sludge mess,” editorial, Jan. 18).
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers forecasts that Lake Michigan and Lake Huron will be at record low levels in 2013. Consequently, Lake Erie water levels also will be low, probably increasing the total dredging volume. This will cause the dumping to occur in even shallower water, raising the sediment concentration and turbidity levels in the fragile western basin.
Open-lake dumping is the low-cost solution so, of course, this becomes a money issue. There are other disposal options, but additional funding must be found.
State lawmakers should ask Washington to use funds from the harbor maintenance tax for their intended purpose. These funds have been siphoned off to support unrelated projects for years.
The dredging must go on, but open-lake dumping should not. A viable Plan B for dredge material disposal must be found and executed to prevent water quality degradation in Lake Erie.
President Lake Erie Waterkeeper Inc.
Oak Harbor, Ohio