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Lake dredging takes first step

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GINA R. HEINE
February 13, 2008
— The Evansville City Council took the first step Tuesday night toward dredging Lake Leota.

The council voted unanimously to have city staff send a letter to property owners adjacent to the lake requesting statements on their willingness to participate in the project.


It would save the city $900,000 if landowners allow sediment from the lake bed to be spread across their land, according to a Vierbicher & Associates report released last week.


Landowners presented with that option at a Save Our Lake Environment meeting last month didn’t express any serious objections, Vierbicher project manager Joe Dorava said.


Dorava summarized for the council the engineering report, which predicts the lake restoration plan would cost $1.7 million to $2.6 million.


The price tag would be on the lower end if the 200,000 cubic yards of material from the lake bed were spread as a 9-inch layer on land west of the lake, Dorava said. That plan includes $12,375 for a fee to deposit the lake material on 165 acres.


It would cost up to $2.6 million if the sediment needed to be transported to a nearby quarry or Town of Union dump, Dorava said.


Formal land arrangements would need to be made before the project could be permitted, he said, but Vierbicher already had regulatory agencies such as the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources review the plan.


Also before the project goes to permitting, another soil sample would need to be taken to test cadmium levels, he said. Such a test would cost $5,000 to $6,000, he said.


Mayor Sandy Decker asked what the DNR would require if the city decided not to dredge.


The city would want to refill the lake, Dorava said, if it chooses the “do nothing” option. But the lake would continue to turn “more into a marsh or wetlands” similar to the upper portion of the lake, he said, but he didn’t think the DNR would require anything as long as dam inspections are current.


Dorava also said it would be a good idea to reconnect Allen Creek to the upper portion of the lake. He envisions boring through the railroad with 36- or 48-inch diameter culverts, he said, but the DNR might request a bridge.


Such a move would reduce the downstream movement of sediment.


A design plan would need to be drafted at a cost of about $15,000, Dorava said, and putting in culverts could cost less than $200,000 while a bridge would run around $400,000.


Gilbert Wiedenhoeft, chairman of the Save Our Lake Environment group, said after the meeting the engineers did a good job with the project’s first step.


No residents spoke against the plan during the public comment period. Council President Mason Braunschweig said last week a city referendum vote in fall would be likely.


Rodney Courtier, who lives a few blocks from the lake, recalled a dredging project when he was a young boy and how he spent a lot of time fishing in the lake then.


“People got a lot of enjoyment out of the lake when it was there,” he said.


Courtier owns wooded land along the lake that he said he would allow the city to transport the sediment across onto adjoining farm land. He said the council took a step in the right direction.


“It’s been a long time coming,” he said after the meeting. “The lake committee worked real hard at this. It’s taken several years to bring it to fruition, and I’m glad to see they’re joining together.”


In other business

The Evansville City Council on Tuesday night voted to give itself pay raises. Alderpersons voted 7-1 to increase the mayor’s pay from $325 to $375 per month, and alderperson pay from $45 to $50 for each meeting. Alderman Fred Juergens voted against the motion.



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