Federal dredging plan to be presented March 3


The federal government's 2011 plan for dredging the Toledo shipping channel and once again dumping most of the river sediment back into Lake Erie's Maumee Bay area will be discussed at 6:30 p.m. March 3 in Toledo City Council chambers.

Toledo is by far the most heavily dredged port in the Great Lakes region; it also is the shallowest. The amount of silt dug up from the Maumee River and Lake Erie's Maumee Bay to accommodate large ocean-going ships and area lakers has cost the government $4 million a year lately.

The typical volume of 900,000 cubic yards is akin to that of 90,000 truckloads of dirt.

Governors from Michigan and Ohio, as well as their environmental administrations, have sought cutbacks in the amount of silt redeposited in the lake since the 1980s, citing concerns of Great Lakes scientists who believe it harms the fishery.

The U.S. Army of Corps of Engineers, the federal agency charged with keeping the nation's navigable waters open for ships, is seeking authorization from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to dig out 1.6 million cubic yards of sediment, up 700,000 cubic yards from what the Corps does in an average year.

The volume varies from year to year, depending on how much dirt was blown or pushed into the Maumee River by rain over the past year.

Written comments will be accepted by the Ohio EPA through Mar. 10. They can be sent to Ohio EPA, Division of Surface Water, Permits Processing Unit, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, Ohio 43216?1049. The application and other materials are available for review at Ohio EPA's northwest district Office in Bowling Green.