Posted on April 24, 2017
By John Kline, Goshen News
Proponents of a long-awaited Goshen Dam Pond dredging project got some good news this month with the announcement that the Indiana Department of Natural Resources has awarded $100,000 in grant funding toward the project.
According to Mark Reiter, head of the DNR’s Fish and Wildlife Division, the grant was one of 11 Lake and River Enhancement grants totaling $617,500 awarded to Indiana communities this year to help remove sediment from public waters.
“The goal for these projects is to improve public accessibility to Indiana waterways and lakes,” Reiter said in a press release announcing the grant winners. “Improved access will increase recreation opportunities for boaters, anglers, paddlers and others who love water.”
LARE grants are funded through the LARE fee paid annually by boat owners when they register their boats with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Reiter explained.
David Troup, president of the environmental advocacy nonprofit Elkhart River Restoration Association, which applied for the grant, expressed excitement about the funding during a phone conversation Wednesday afternoon.
“This is money that we’ve kind of been hoping we’d get for a while now, so it does feel good to finally get it,” Troup said of the grant. “We’re actually hoping to get it again for the next two years, because you can get a total of $300,000 over three years for a single project. But you have to apply for it every year and get awarded it every year. So we’ll see how it goes.”
According to Troup, the 140-acre pond behind the Goshen dam has become filled with sediment over the course of its 150-year existence. The silting has resulted in a reduction in the pond’s depth, according to Troup, and has also created significant aquatic vegetation growth. The shallow water also limits the recreational use of the pond and has resulted in degradation of fish and wildlife habitat, he said. The ERRA intends to use the dredging project to restore recreational use and improve wildlife habitat for targeted portions of the pond.
In the works since late 2013, the ERRA’s original plan was to have 34 acres of the pond dredged to an average depth of six feet at a cost of about $2.6 million.
However, Troup noted Wednesday that the scope of the project has had to be reduced in recent months as the group has only been able to secure about $1.6 million toward the project to date. Faced with that shortfall, Troup said the current plan is to dredge 17 of the 34 acres identified in the original plan, focusing specifically on the highest priority areas.
“We have enough money to do about half of the acreage that we wanted to do,” Troup said of the project. “We’d need about another $1 million to finish the other 17 acres. But at this point we’re ready to at least get started. We have all our permits, so we’re just waiting on the city to put together the contract with the dredger, Grow America.”
In addition to the recently awarded LARE grant through the DNR, current funding contributors to the project include: the Elkhart County Stormwater Board, the Goshen Stormwater Board, the Community Foundation of Elkhart County, the Goshen Dam Pond Economic Improvement District and private donors.
The Goshen Dam Pond Economic Improvement District, or EID, is a 10-year agreement approved by the Elkhart County Commissioners back in October of 2014 with the goal of raising funds to support the dredging of the pond. Under the EID, properties surrounding the pond are assessed an annual fee ranging from between $200 to $500 depending on the amount of frontage owned.
While the original plan identified six areas of priority around the pond, the reworked plan now calls for dredging just a portion of the three to four highest priority areas.
“The dredging will be reserved for the areas closest to the pond bank,” Troup said of the plan. “We’re dredging an area up by the dam and the boat launch. That’s primarily to help increase the usability of that area, and provide a little better access when you’re using that part of the pond.”
The boat launch is on the east side of the dam.
Also scheduled for dredging is an area close to the C.R. 38 bridge on the west side, a section visible from Main Street on the southeast side of the pond, and a section on the pond’s west side where a channel will be created to provide greater access for the west side properties.
Once dredged, the plan is to transport all removed silt to dewatering pads set to be constructed along Kercher Road.
“They’re going to build two of these pads to dewater,” Troup said of the process. “They’ll use one until it’s filled, and then switch to the other one. Then once the sediment is dried, in a month or two, it will be moved off the first pad and spread out on farm ground. And then they’ll be able to use that pad again. So they’ll just keep coming back and forth between the two pads until they’re finished.”
With all permits in and the contract with Grow America ready to be signed, Troup said his hope is that dredging of the pond will begin as early as July 1 of this year, barring any unforeseen complications.
“Dredging itself can’t start until July 1 because of fish spawning season, which I believe runs from April 1 to July 1,” Troup said. “We can’t dredge during fish spawning, so you wouldn’t see any dredging activity until after July 1. Hopefully the equipment will be delivered and set up and ready to go by that time so we can get started right away.”
In the meantime, Troup said the group will continue its efforts to secure additional funding for future phases of the project through various grant, donor and fundraising efforts with the goal of eventually raising enough to dredge the entire 34 acres identified in the original plan.
Source: Goshen News