After months of dredging, Lake Zumbro nears the finish line

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Olmsted County Board of Commissioners board member and lake front property owner Mark Thein.

Posted November 26, 2019

NEAR ORONOCO, Minn. (KTTC) — The $7.5 million Lake Zumbro dredging project has been at least 10 years in the making, while sediment build-up on the lake has been happening for almost a century.

“This is the only navigable lake in Olmsted County,” said Mark Thein, a board member on the Olmsted County Board of Commissioners.

That is why for the past six months, covering three seasons specialty contractors at J.F Brennan have been hard at work. “We run 24 hours a day and lately to try to beat this freezing weather we’ve gone 24/7,” project manager Ross Johnson said.

Johnson says the material is pumped to a deposit site where the soil and water is filtered out. Then the water is pumped into a secondary basin for treatment before sending the clean water back to the lake.

“In all, between all the dredging areas there was eight of them total we’ve removed a little over 450,000 cubic yards of sediment from the lake,” Johnson said.

Lake front property owner Thein said, “It’s a gem of a lake and I’ve raised my family on it and I love it.”

“Prior to to the dredging project this lake was half the size that it is now. We essentially doubled the usable size of the lake by removing all this fill,” Thein said.

As project manager Johnson was at the dredge site, an enthusiastic resident came up. “We saw your trucks coming down last night and were like, ‘Oh my God they’re here,’” they laughed.

Project Manager Ross Johnson.

Johnson said his crew has seen a lot of happy residents as the project nears a finish. He also said without his crew members’ hard work the project would not be where it is.

As the dredging project nears the finish line, lake front property owners like Mark say more needs to be done to maintain Lake Zumbro.

“As long as there is silt entering the river then there’s always going to be more material to remove it’s a constant battle,” Thein said. “We’ve got to take care of our watershed. If we take care of our watershed and use good land practices, that’ll slow down infiltration.”

Lake Zumbro residents are not only looking toward summer 2020, but for years to come.

“I hope that we can keep this lake usable and pristine for generations to come,” Thein added.