COLUMBUS - State officials have approved dredging about 850,000 cubic yards of sediment from the Maumee River and Maumee Bay shipping channels to keep Toledo's harbor open, but with a condition: In the future, not as much can be dumped into Lake Erie as will be permitted this year.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has granted a Section 401 water quality certificate to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for its annual maintenance dredging program on 24 miles of channel stretching from western Lake Erie to just below the I-75 DiSalle Bridge over the river.
About 300,000 cubic yards of sediment forecast to be removed from the river channel and the innermost two miles of the Maumee Bay channel will be delivered to a confined disposal facility along Oregon's Maumee Bay shore near Toledo Edison's Bay Shore power plant.
The estimated 550,000 cubic yards to be dredged from farther out in Maumee Bay is to be dumped in the northeastern half of an existing 2-square-mile open lake disposal site.
That's nearly triple the 200,000-cubic-yard open-lake disposal permitted in 2002, and Ohio EPA said that before it will consider a permit for 2004, the corps of engineers must modify its short-term plans to return to a 200,000-cubic-yard maximum.
Ohio EPA's goal is to eliminate open-lake dumping of dredging material to improve Lake Erie's water quality.
Soil runoff from communities and farmland along the Maumee requires continual channel dredging to maintain ship access to the Port of Toledo.