City Council voices support for dredging project; expects to vote next month

DECATUR--  The Decatur City Council did everything short of dredging Lake Decatur themselves as they voiced their support for the near $90 million project.
“We have had a lot of things happen over the last several years in our community and not all of it has been good,” Mayor Mike McElroy said, “but I truly believe that this project will change the way people look, and talk about Decatur for many years into the future.”
The project calls for basins one through four in Lake Decatur to be dredged; removing several feet of sediment that has been building up on the lake’s floor since it was built in back in 1922.
“This type of project has been done before, in the 90s the City Council approved the dredging of basin 5 and in 2011 basin 6 was dredged but the scope of that project pales in comparison to the one we are about to undertake,” City Manager Ryan McCrady said.  “To put things in perspective, if we had this project finished back in 2012, we wouldn’t have needed to impose the mandatory water restrictions like we did.”
For more perspective, the cost of the two previous basins to be dredged combined was just north of $14 million; the plan the council looked at on Tuesday night cost $89.3 million and will take 6 years to complete
Director of water Management Keith Alexander says once the 6 year process is complete, the lake will have expanded by 30% capacity, adding an additional 52 worth of water.
The Council voiced their unanimous support for the project, Councilwoman Julie Moore-Wolf said it was a long time coming to a body of water that is so vital to the community, “The Lake is the life blood of our community, and we wouldn’t be able to function or do the things that we do if the lake wasn’t here.  This is definitely the right thing to do for our community.”
Alexander says the actual dredging process will cause the temporary closure of whatever area of the lake they are working on, “A dredge is a very large floating vessel, there will also be several pump stations up and down the lake that are designed to remove the sediment from the lake and into the sediment reservoir.”  The sediment basin is located on the north end of the lake in Oakley Township.
Councilman Pat McDaniel had some concerns that the basin wouldn’t be large enough to contain all of the sediment being pumped from the lake, but Alexander assured him that it would.
The discussion on dredging on Tuesday night was just an information session so no vote was taken.  The Council is expected to vote on a final plan during their next meeting on February 3rd