Editorial: Lake Dredging Project Behind Schedule

By / Editorials / Wednesday, 12 April 2017 04:00

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

The Carolina Beach 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 point of the project is to increase the depth of the lake by removing muck and mud from the lake-bottom and in turn increase holding capacity in an effort to handle more storm water runoff during major rain events. ("Events" is code for tropical storms and hurricanes in addition to the abnormal freak 20+ inches of rain we got a couple of years ago).
Properties surrounding the Carolina Beach Lake traditionally flood during such storms because the lake overflows it's banks.

The project was supposed to start on March 27th. Then the project was delayed because of equipment maintenance. Good news is, they recently began taking material from the lake, putting it in trucks and hauling it off to a holding site off Dow Road.

When the Town awarded a contract to a company to dredge the lake one of the more appealing points for Council members was that work would begin in February or March, continue until the end of May and then stop during the summer months. Work would resume in October during the slower fall months.

Not that anyone needs to be reminded, but Carolina Beach depends on it's tourism based economy to help fund local government and business owners. Summer months are the time our Town should be polished and ready to serve the tourists.

Having one of the largest focal points in Town - the Lake - appear as a giant construction site, isn't' conducive to promoting that positive image.

The Town Manager wishes to allow the contractor to work throughout the summer months in order to save money by reducing "mobilization costs" for the contractor.

The issue is, we are talking about 1,000 truck loads of mud that can smell really bad on a hot summer day. Those loads will be transported by truck down residential streets to an area off Dow Road at the waste treatment plant.

On the other hand, if you are a parent who drops their child off at the Carolina Beach Elementary School, when the project progresses to the west side of the lake and trucks are hauling material from the lake right in front of the school, it might no be a bad idea to get that portion of the project finished when school's out for the summer break.

That way it lessens the need for trucks to roar by while kids are arriving and leaving school for the day either in a bus or in their parents vehicle. With either schedule there are good and bad points.

Now the project is over 30 days late and upon visiting the Lake on Tuesday April 11th, it was apparent - even on a cool weather day - the smell was already getting pretty foul in the area because of the mud and decaying organic matter that's usually covered with water. The Lake looks like a construction site and smells like a portable toilet on a warm day.  
Town Manager Michael Cramer informed the Council Tuesday night the project was behind schedule because the composition of material being removed from the Lake was creating some issues.

He said they're working with an engineer to look at using other types of equipment to dredge the Lake. (See report on page 1-A)

 If they can pick up speed and begin moving material on a steady schedule, great! However, one or more heavy rain events (or worse, tropical storm or hurricane) and we can expect the project will take longer rather than being completed by Christmas of this year.

Keep your fingers crossed.

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