Council Considers Options For Suspended Lake Dredging Project

 A $2.7 million dollar project to dredge the Carolina Beach Lake to hold additional storm water began early last year. On August 29th, the U.S. Army demanded the Town stop hauling dirt to land leased to the Town since the 1970's for a wastewater treatment plant off Dow Road. The Town was placing the dirt at an unapproved location. Now the Town is searching for alternate locations. The Council discussed whether to continue the project during their April 24th workshop. A $2.7 million dollar project to dredge the Carolina Beach Lake to hold additional storm water began early last year. On August 29th, the U.S. Army demanded the Town stop hauling dirt to land leased to the Town since the 1970's for a wastewater treatment plant off Dow Road. The Town was placing the dirt at an unapproved location. Now the Town is searching for alternate locations. The Council discussed whether to continue the project during their April 24th workshop.

Council Considers Options For Suspended Lake Dredging Project Featured

By / Local News / الأربعاء, 25 نيسان/أبريل 2018 14:24

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council held a workshop on April 24th to discuss the future of a project to finish dredging the Carolina Beach Lake as well as the cost of disposing of material already removed from the Lake being held on Army property off Dow Road.

Carolina Beach Town Manager Michael Cramer updated Council during their January 9th, meeting on the status of completing a project to dredge the Carolina Beach Lake on Lake Park Blvd.

The Town Council voted unanimously to terminate a contract with Civil Works Contracting to dredge the Carolina Beach Lake  during their December 12th, meeting. The Town continues to search for alternate locations to dispose of soil dredged from the Lake.

Dredging was suspended August 29th after the U.S. Army expressed concerns about dredge material removed from the lake being deposited at the wrong location on Army land off Dow Road.

On November 28th, Town Manager Michael Cramer recommended the Council consider terminating the contract until a future time when work can resume under a new contract.

In October the Town was notified that owners of one alternate location changed their minds about taking on the material following soil tests which showed higher levels of arsenic.

That land is located north of Snow's Cut Bridge in the undeveloped portion  of a new residential neighborhood.

Cramer explained on Monday November 20th, the Town has contacted the U.S. Coast Guard about obtaining access to property on River Road just north of Carolina Beach in order to access property the Town owns behind the Coast Guard land. The Town operates a waste water treatment plant on land leased from the Army since the 1970's on Dow Road on the west side of the Island. The land is part of the buffer zone for the U.S. Army Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point (MOTSU). The terminal is one of two large volume deep-water ammunition terminals in the continental United States. Operations are located on the other side of the Cape Fear River in Brunswick County and the "buffer zone" occupies a large portion of Pleasure Island encompassing land in both Carolina Beach and Kure Beach on  the riverside of the Island.

Cramer said the Town had a third round of soil testing conducted in the lake area and the material already deposited on  the Army land.

He explained, “We expanded our search in order to go and try and get a finer degree of information that we could look at and give to regulators on what we could do with the spoils. Basically what came back was that the baseline for the area outside of the lake and MOTSU contains no arsenic. The water in the lake itself contains no arsenic. The ground water under and around the lake and MOSTU contains no arsenic. The soil that we took out of the lake and put onto the MOTSU property contains no arsenic. All good news. What we found is that we didn’t confirm that there is arsenic left in the material that is in the lake. Not exactly the pin point precision of exactly where the line of demarcation is, but we do know that out of six samples that were taken, three of them had hits of arsenic. Two of them above the commercial and industrial level. The next step in this process is to go and test and find exactly where that is and determine how much material that may provide and then determine can we do other dredging in that area but not disturb that soil, or, if we do take out that soil, where can we put it."

Previous tests showed higher levels of arsenic and suggest that the material is suitable for placement on a commercial parcel, but may not be suitable for placement in residential areas or for structural use.

Cramer said he spoke with various state agencies, “All to try and determine exactly what or what cannot be done with the material and where it could or could not go. At this point our permit says that we can place it anywhere but that does not necessarily mean that you have all the permits that you have to for a specific site to contain that. So that is sort of our next step in this gathering of information so that Council can make a good solid decision on where to go from this point forward."

The Town Council awarded a bid to Civil Works Contracting in the amount of $2,766,338 during their January 10th, meeting to dredge the lake. The goal is to make the lake deeper to a consistent depth of 6' to 8' feet and improve capacity to hold approximately 16 million gallons of storm water runoff that has traditionally caused flooding of surrounding properties and roadways. The total volume to be removed from the lake was estimated to be approximately 83,000 cubic yards of material. The original completion date for the project was scheduled for February 9th, 2018.

When the project was suspended August 29th, the contractor had removed approximately 30,000 cubic yards of material to the wastewater treatment plant.

Guidelines sent to the Town by MOTSU officials called for removal of the material already placed on their property within three to five years. The cost of moving that material is unknown due to a lack of a alternate disposal location. Distance of travel plays a major role in terms of cost to transport the dirt.

Cramer explained, "On August 29, 2017 the Town suspended the Lake Dredging Contract with Civil Works Construction LLC due to issues with spoils placement at the Wastewater Treatment Plant.  Since that time the town has performed additional soil studies on the material at the Wastewater Treatment Plant and the remaining soil in the lake.  In order to move forward with the project more time, up to 6 months of additional time, will be necessary to complete the additional permits applications and finalize another disposal location for the spoils.  It is not fair nor appropriate that the town to continue the current contract with CWC, while working through the permitting requirements.  The Town Manager recommends that the current contract be terminated and preparations for a future phase of the Lake Dredge Project move forward."

In December  the Council voted to terminate the contract until a solution and alternate location could be researched.

During the Council's January 9th, 2018 meeting Cramer explained, "Currently as all of you know, the contract has been terminated. We have been working with the contractor to establish what things need to be addressed on the property at the lake. What equipment needs to be removed and what items need to be returned back to their original condition. We are hopeful that will start up here pretty soon and that it shouldn't take long for us to clean up the site and finish off that portion of the project."

He explained, "As we've been doing that we've also been looking for other ways to go and finish off the lake dredge project. We've been exploring numerous opportunities for places to put the spoils and also regulatory approval for that type of a project. Right now we've contacted all of the regulatory agencies and believe we are on our way to getting approval to be able place the material on a piece of town property just behind the [Coast Guard] Loran Station" off River Road north of Snow's Cut Bridge.

He explained, "That's moving along. The last hurdle associated with that is working with the Coast Guard to receive an easement so we can get back to our property. We're anticipating that will still take several months to work through that process. During that time you will see boats and activity in the water at the lake. We will be doing additional testing so that we can define the exact location of the containments that we have in the lake and determine how much material can be removed and how much may have to stay or what we should do with those remaining spoils."

Town Manager Michael Cramer said on Monday March 19th, reviews have been conducted by the Coast Guard and various other state and federal agencies and now he's waiting to hear from the Army Corp of Engineers regarding obtaining an access easement across the Coast Guard property off River Road. That would allow the Town to transport the existing dredge material located on the Army's property off Dow Road to the Town's property behind the Coast Guard land off River Road.

During the April 24th, meeting Cramer presented an update to the Council.

For the dredging project, Cramer said the goal was to remove 83,000 cubic yards of material adding 16,000,000 gallons of water storage. When the project was halted, 32,720 cubic yards of material had been removed adding 6,608,623 million gallons of water storage which increased the holding capacity of the lake by 40%.
Another project to install a force main to Henniker's Ditch last year resulted in increased pumping capacity to remove water from the lake resulting from heavy rainfall events. The pumping capacity was increased from 8,064,000 gallons per day to 14,112,000 gallons per day.

That increased pumping capacity by 43%.

Cramer said now rather than having to begin pumping days ahead of a major storm, the Town can now pump the lake to the bottom within 14 hours due to increased pumping capacity.

An emergency pipe was stalled leading to the ocean. That resulted in increased pumping capacity from 4,752,000 gallons per day to 6,336,000 gallons per day or an increase in pumping capacity of 25%.

Cramer presented four options during the meeting:
1. Leave in Place - Minimize the Arsenic impacted soil areas and leave in place.
2. Create New Island – Remove soils to island in the lake.
3. Remove Arsenic Soils.
a) Find suitable land application site – Town Property Behind LORAN Site.
b) Take to lined landfill – New Hanover County or Sampson County.
4. Remediation Action Plan: Negotiate a soils blending plan for treatment of the Arsenic impacted soils.

For Option One, leaving the remaining material in place with 40% increased capacity and 63% increased pumping capabilities would address future challenges with continuing the dredging project. Cramer said they could utilize the remaining project funds estimated at $1.4 million dollars to fund other storm water improvement projects. Cramer said that option leaves more than half of the lake at a depth of 18" inches which will lead to continued issues with aquatic vegetation and difficulties for paddle boat rentals.

Option two calls for creating a new 200' by 200' foot 3 foot high island in the lake using dredge material. Cramer said that would increase the capacity of the lake by 626 cubic yards. He explained that option would decrease the surface area of the lake by one acre and would also have a high cost to benefit ratio.

The third option calls for removing the soils. Cramer said that would provide the maximum capacity and reduce maintenance for aquatic vegetation as well as increasing the overall depth for paddle boats.

He said cost would be an issue because that option would have a high cost to benefit ratio. For example, to remove the material to a landfill, the cost would be $3 to $4.5 million dollars. To move it to Town owned property off River Road, the cost would be $2.2 million dollars.

Cramer presented another option for a Remedial Action Plan. He explained there are pros and cons to that plan. While it presents maximum lake capacity and reduces maintenance for aquatic vegetation as well as increased depth for paddle boats, that option is not likely to get state approval and is difficult to find a large enough property to remediate or treat the soil for removal of any arsenic. He said that option has a questionable cost to benefit ratio and would require future monitoring.

Cramer recommended the Town implement Option One to leave the remaining material in place and not continue the dredging project. He recommended retaining some project funds for developing access to the Town property behind the Coast Guard Loran Station on River Road and recommended using the remaining project funds to improve other storm water infrastructure in Town including Canal Drive and storm water systems on the North End.

Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said he's recently hired trucks to haul away dirt for his business and it was $75 to $85 dollars per hour which would be far less than the $2.2 million dollar estimate for trucking the material to the Town's property behind the Loran Station.

Cramer said that figure was based on engineer's estimates.

Shuttleworth said engineers typically add 15% to 20% to their estimates and he would like to see some bids from contractors to get a better idea of actual costs.

Councilman Jodan Garza asked, "If we were to leave it in place and do nothing, what's the short term plan, long term plan with regards to MOTSU's land and the remediation to their property afterwards?"

Cramer explained, "Our short term, say 6 months to a year, would be to slowly eat away at the pile and get rid of the material. There are some construction projects that could happen in Town that could use as much as 25,000 cubic yards of material. There is a possibility that we could get rid of that material within the three to five year window with little or nor cost."

Councilman Shuttleworth said based on the figures presented, some options could put the project $800,000 over budget.

He said, "I don't think we would start a project in May anyway. I would like to see if we could not get some serious hard numbers and work down on that $2.2 million as taking it to the Loran Station. Originally we went forward with the project because we had infrastructure needs and it was part of several components to the storm water. One of them was the Henniker Ditch pumps. One of them was crossing Lake Park Blvd and the third leg of the stool was getting the lake dredged out" and, "Primarily folks right at the lake that I would have thought would be the most impacted by the disruption have said I'm willing to live with the disruption, please finish the project. It smells, it has algae. Those were the original reasons we voted to do the project. Those are ancillary benefits. We did it for safety, stormwater. I don't want to go $800,000 over budget on any project, but I don't want to do a third of a project. If it was good enough to start the first time to get the capacity. And if we've learned some lessons, maybe we could stage it a little better. I would encourage Michael to come back through the course of the summer with some hard numbers and get some contractor bids" to get a better idea of the cost for those options.

Cramer said he will return with additional info and figures later this summer.

Councilman Garza said "In the meantime I think we need to do something in regards to that lake. Let people know we are working on it. Clean it up," and, "When you walk out there it does not look pleasant."

Garza said the Town needs to remove garbage and algae from the lake. The Council agreed a public hearing needs to be held later this year once more firm cost figures are obtained for the different options.

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