Ohio EPA has identified $10 million dollars of funding from Governor John R. Kasich’s capital budget to promote alternative beneficial uses for Toledo Harbor dredge materials.
An agreement between Ohio EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will allow dredging of Toledo Harbor and the federal shipping channel to proceed while moving toward an eventual goal of eliminating open lake placement of dredge materials.
“This condition in the water quality certification creates a partnership between the State of Ohio and the USACE to protect the health of Lake Erie by seeking an economical and beneficial use for the dredge material to reduce and eventually eliminate open lake placement,” Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler said. “The agreement also keeps Toledo harbor and the federal shipping channel open which is critical to the economic growth of northwest Ohio.”
Under the condition, a first-of-its-kind agreement between USACE and Ohio EPA, the State of Ohio will evaluate various beneficial use options for the dredge material. Once a project is identified, the USACE will provide dredge material for the project. Since the USACE is required to utilize the least costly, environmentally acceptable method of placement, which is open lake placement, the state will pay the difference between open lake placement and the alternative use.
Examples of beneficial use include soil amendments, landfill cover, fill dirt, wetland habitat restoration and agricultural uses.
Up to $10 million of funding is available this year through the state capital budget, made possible under the leadership of State Senator Randy Gardner (Bowling Green), with the support of the Ohio General Assembly and Governor Kasich.
“I am pleased that the Ohio EPA and the Army Corps have a new opportunity to work together to tackle the issue of open-lake placement of dredge materials,” State Senator Randy Gardner said. “Ohio’s new commitment to finding alternatives to open-lake placement is part of our ongoing efforts toward a cleaner, healthier Lake Erie.”
“The Corps of Engineers recognizes the economic importance of annual maintenance dredging of Toledo Harbor,” said Buffalo District Commander, Maj. Michael Busby. “Open lake placement of dredged sediment is environmentally acceptable and engineeringly sound. We will continue to seek sustainable solutions for beneficial use of dredged sediment.”
Ohio EPA will work with local partners, including the Toledo Port Authority and City of Toledo, to evaluate the recommendations of the 2012 Toledo Harbor Sediment Management and Use Plan, which identified and evaluated potential beneficial-use options of dredge material.
“Our goal is to have several demonstration projects and alternatives decided upon and initial engineering and design underway during this dredging season,” Director Butler stated. “We believe that through the continued support of the USACE, legislative and Congressional leaders and the local partners, we can achieve a significant reduction and possibly total elimination of the open lake placement of dredge material in Lake Erie from Toledo Harbor within five years.”
Press Release, May 29, 2014