Browns Lake set for dredging project

The Browns Lake Aquaducks form a pyramid during last year’s Browns Lake Venetian Fest at Einer Fischer Park in the Town of Burlington. The Browns Lake Sanitary District is in the beginning stages of receiving permits to dredge Browns Lake (File Photo).

Officials unsure of timeline, final financial figure

By Jason Arndt

Browns Lake will undergo a dredging project following an endorsement from state regulators on a preliminary permit submitted by the Browns Lake Sanitary District.

The Browns Lake Sanitary District, known as BLSD, began discussions about dredging the popular destination spot for tourists and residents alike following years of preliminary talks.

“We have been working on this for a couple of years, and it takes time,” said Chairman Paul Naber from BLSD, which manages Browns Lake. “There are a lot of different things you have to do.”

Naber said the preliminary approval from the Department of Natural Resources is just one of several hurdles the sanitary district needs to undertake before finalizing the project timeline, a concrete financial figure, and whether the job could impact summer recreational opportunities at Browns Lake.

Based on preliminary plans from consulting firm Berrini and Associates, LLC, which submitted the paperwork to the DNR, officials initially looked to begin sediment storage and dewatering site preparation as soon as this summer before dredging thousands of pounds of sediment from Browns Lake next spring.

The consultant also noted the dredging work could take up to two summers and could impact recreational activities.

However, Naber said BLSD officials will not be able to determine the project’s full scope until they receive bids from contractors.

“We are trying to get bids put together to get out to the contractors, so we can get a number, so we know what we are working with,” Naber said. “That is something we won’t know until we get this bid out and interview a few contractors.”

BLSD officials in December approved engineering firm Kapur and Associates to provide engineering services, including soliciting bids and specifications for the dredging project for contractors looking to complete work.

Officials have since advertised for bid proposals with publication seeking contractors.

As part of the advertisement, prospective contractors interested in the proposed project need to attend a mandatory pre-bid meeting on March 11 held virtually or at Kapur in Burlington with an April 4 deadline to submit proposals.

Additionally, the proposal includes a project start time of either next year or in 2026 depending on selection of a base bid, or an alternative base bid.

The dredging project looks to remove thousands of pounds of sediment, which has become an issue for some lake users, according to a preliminary application from Berrini and Associates.

“Significant concerns about soft, easily resuspended sediment located throughout the shallower areas of the northwest, southwest and southern portions of the lake have been discussed with the intent of removing the most problematic sediment via hydraulic suction dredging,” the preliminary application states. “This sediment becomes even more problematic seasonally when lake water levels drop as much as a foot or more due to reduced rainfall and lower groundwater levels that often occur in late summer.”

Additionally, the sediment consisting of phosphorous and other pollutants has created environmental concerns for aquatic life, as well as for owners of piers along the Browns Lake shoreline.

The predominant fish species include panfish, largemouth bass, northern pike, and walleye based on the preliminary application, which noted Browns Lake encompasses 397 acres and carries a maximum lake depth of 44 feet.

“Some people can’t get to their piers because there is so much muck,” Naber said. “Trying to clean up and improve fishing habitat is a big thing.”

See the March 7 print edition of the Standard Press for the full story.

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