Heidi Griesmer, Ohio EPA, (614) 644-2160
Matt Eiselstein, ODNR, (614) 265-6860
Mary McCarron, Ohio EPA, (614) 644-2160
State to Invest Nearly $10 Million to Help Protect Lake Erie
ODNR and Ohio EPA partner with Ohio communities on projects that create beneficial use options for dredge material
Toledo, OH – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and Ohio EPA recently received approval from the State Controlling Board to begin funding nearly $10 million in projects aimed toward helping to keep dredged material out of Lake Erie. These projects are part of Ohio’s “Healthy Lake Erie Fund” efforts and will be managed by local officials and sponsors from Toledo, Lorain and Conneaut, the communities where these monies are being invested. These projects represent a portion of a Ohio’s dredged material management program developed jointly by the Ohio EPA, ODNR, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with input from local stakeholders.
“Lake Erie is Ohio’s greatest natural resource and ensuring its health is vital for the continued success of the communities, businesses and families that depend on it,” said ODNR Director Jim Zehringer. “These projects represent a shared commitment between federal, state and local partners in helping to protect this great lake for generations.”
“These projects are part of Ohio EPA’s comprehensive strategy to manage nutrients entering Lake Erie. They demonstrate how we can repurpose material dredged from Lake Erie’s harbors and use them in beneficial ways and not simply dumping this nutrient laden material into Lake Erie,” said Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler. “I appreciate the widespread support these projects have from local stakeholders and the U.S. Army Corps.”
These projects will not only help improve and protect Lake Erie water quality, but will aid the navigation of vessels traveling in and out of the ports located in Toledo, Lorain and Conneaut. Dredged material removed from these Lake Erie ports will be beneficially reused to provide nutrient rich soil for use in construction and habitat restoration projects. This material will also be used to improve conditions at brownfield sites in these communities. By placing and repurposing dredged material at these soon to be constructed sites, the waters of Lake Erie will be improved by reducing nutrient and sediment loads into Lake Erie.
“The $4,000,000 grant the Ohio EPA and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Office of Coastal Management, is awarding to the City of Lorain provides funding for the placement alternative needed for the bi-annual disposal of sediment dredged from the Black River, previously dumped in the open waters of Lake Erie,” said Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer. “The coordinated efforts to handle dredged materials differently will not only improve the water quality of Lake Erie but also provides opportunities for the reuse of uncontaminated dredged materials into marketable products. The City of Lorain thanks the Ohio EPA and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for this grant to fund the design and construction of the Black River Dredge Reuse Facility.”
“Toledo has a tremendous challenge in beneficially reusing up to one million cubic yards of dredge material from the federal shipping channel every year,” said Paul Toth, President and CEO of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. “The Port Authority is appreciative of the State of Ohio dedicating resources toward this effort. We will continue to work with the State of Ohio, the Army Corps of Engineers and others to identify and pursue new uses and locations where the material can be used beneficially in region.”
These projects will provide opportunities for local economic development and job creation through public-private partnerships and will support continued maintenance and operation of the Federal navigation channels by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Additionally, these efforts address the requirement to utilize Healthy Lake Erie Funds to promote the beneficial use of dredge material and meet the July 1, 2020 ban on open-lake disposal of dredge material into Lake Erie.
The state continues to pursue additional projects along the Lake Erie coast that will help to improve water quality and restore nearshore and coastal habitats. This includes projects at each of the federal navigation channel harbors and a suite of projects that are being undertaken in the Sandusky Bay where dredge material will be beneficially reused to restore in-water wetlands and associated fisheries habitat.