Posted on December 14, 2020
SOUTH MILFORD — Years and years of sediment buildup within the channels of Blackman Lake have made them almost impassable for its residents, leaving a lot of them high and dry.
A dredging project at the lake spearheaded by the Blackman Lake Improvement Association will end those problems come next spring and summer.
Over the past three months, Mike Hamather, of Alcona Dredging Company, of Lincoln, Michigan has spent countless hours inside the cab of his barge clearing the lake bottom. Moving inches at a time the dredge is clearing five to six foot of silt from the bottom of the lake’s two channels.
Jim Mitchell, vice president of the association said the project has been one challenge after another, but it is almost complete.
“We didn’t expect the water to be as low as it is,” he said.
The low water levels have made it extremely difficult to get to the far reaches of the north and south channels on the lake’s east side.
To make the process happen an 8-inch pipe was floated from the east side of the lake to the west side of the lake. The sludge is pumped through the piping at 800 gallons per minute dumping into a 17-foot hole dug in a pasture owned by Peter Cook, who raises buffalo.
“It is phenomenal to see how much pipe has been laid (to complete the project),” Mitchell said.
Sam Perkins, who has spearheaded the project for the association said it takes about nine minutes for the water and sludge to be pumped from the barge to the outlet.
To help the project move smoothly Perkins has worked closely with Hamather throughout the project.
Being retired Perkins said he had the time to assist with the project. His help also allowed the company to only have one employee on site during the process.
Perkins expects work in the channel will be completed in the next couple of days, then work will begin in front of the lake’s boat launch and the west side of the lake.
With dredging complete by the end of the year, the 52-acre spring filled lake’s channels will be some 8-foot deep next spring and summer.
“We are really happy with the way the other channel came out,” Perkins said. “Mike has done a tremendous job. I don’t think we could have asked for a better job.”
Cook, who raises buffalo on the pasture land that is being used for the project, said he expects to keep a portion of the area as a pond and seed the rest of the area once dredging is complete.
Cook is no stranger to the process as he allowed the Adams Lake Association to use his land to discharge sediment several years ago.
“The buffalo will be able to graze the land once the work is complete,” he said.
The final piece of the puzzle for the association is raising the remaining funds to pay for the $130,000 project. The lake association received a grant from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, which paid for 80% of the project leaving the association to pay around $30,000.
To date the association still needs around $5,000 to pay off the project.
The buy-in of the lake’s residents has been one of the biggest challenges for the association. Mitchell said the project had been talked about for a number of years with nothing ever being done.
“Hopefully after the residents see the final project whey will help to pay it off,” Mitchell said.
Anyone interested in donating to the project can mail donations to Frank Mitchell, treasurer, P.O. Box 515, Avilla, IN, 46710. Make checks payable to BLIA (Blackman Lake Improvement Association).