Posted at: 08/25/2013 9:06 PM
Updated at: 08/25/2013 10:42 PM
The big barges lifting sediment off of the floor of the Lake Superior Harbor are hard to miss.
They're bringing dredged material to the Erie Pier Process and Reuse Facility. It's a fairly large area, about 90 acres. Now, there's a new way to utilize the material. But after many years of use, the facility is nearing capacity.
"Because of that issue, we've tried to find other beneficial use throughout this harbor where we would not have to put the material into Erie Pier," said Duluth area engineer Steve Brossart.
A three-year project has just begun. The current material being dredged is being moved near the mouth of Miller Creek by 21st Avenue West, where the water is now up to 24 feet deep. This is too deep for aquatic plants.
By using dredge material, they're hoping to raise the elevation of the base of the embayment.
Shallower water means aquatic vegetation can begin to grow. More aquatic vegetation means more aquatic habitat, like fish and birds.
"It's probably the most economical and beneficial way to use the dredge material," Brossart said.
New aquatic plants may even help filter water coming into the river from Miller Creek. If successful, more projects like this could help other restoration projects along the St. Louis River.
"It's a pilot project," Brossart said. "It's a number of agencies working together, and it's great to see."
Dredging will continue into November, before winter starts. In the spring, a new company will be hired to continue the dredging .