The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the City of Toledo held a ribbon cutting ceremony yesterday to mark the grand opening of the new Great Lakes Dredged Material Center for Innovation on Summit Street in north Toledo.
The project represents a significant milestone in the reuse of material that would otherwise be deposited in Lake Erie, and was brought to fruition through an Ohio Healthy Lake Erie Fund grant and through cooperative partnerships between the Ohio EPA, ODNR, Port Authority, City of Toledo and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“It is important that we begin to think differently about the 800,000 to one million cubic yards of material dredged annually from the shipping channel at the Port of Toledo,” said Paul Toth, president & CEO of the Port Authority.
“The Center for Innovation will help us to better understand how to derive value from the material so it can be used to enhance the region in a sustainable manner.”
The new Center for Innovation will advance efforts necessary to plan for the full-scale implementation of projects utilizing dredged material for agricultural use and blended soil product development purposes.
The Center for Innovation consists of four cells to be filled with dredged material and used for agricultural field testing.
The site also includes an edge-of-field treatment system research area, a blended soil production area, a barge mooring area, and will soon have a new access road and other infrastructure to support beneficial use projects.
“This pilot project is an example of the type of public-private partnership that will help us eliminate the open lake disposal of dredged material by 2020,” said Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler.
“In May, we hosted a dredged materials summit with policy makers, business experts, and others to explore ways Ohio can repurpose material dredged from Lake Erie’s harbors. Over the next four years, Ohio will be making a concerted effort to look for and develop beneficial use projects like this one for dredged material and sediment.”
“This project is another effort to better manage source water challenges of Lake Erie in a more comprehensive manner,” said City of Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson.
The Center for Innovation will move beneficial use options forward that were recommended in the Toledo Harbor Sediment Management & Use Plan, funded through a $250,000 grant from the U.S. EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and Ohio Lake Erie Commission to the Port Authority.