Understanding Dredging at Your Ohio Lakefront Community
For anyone out there looking at buying a lake house, or who already owns a lake house, knows that living at a lakefront community comes with it’s special problems; erosion, sedimentation, dam or spillway failure, algae, etc. The communities have to be aware of these problems and have plans in place to handle these problems if they arise. One of the more common problems at lakes is sediment build up (which is linked to erosion and other issues) but essentially over time plants, vegetation, silt, dirt and everything else start to build up at the bottom of the lake, and the first thing to talk about with Dredging is “the why”.
This build up of sedimentation can cause harm to aquatic life, make it harder to treat water quality issues, clog spillways and drains, and make the lake less useful for recreation as coves and more shallow areas will become even harder to use for recreation. In the long run if sedimentation is not kept in check lakes can see major costs down the road from other problems the sediment build up has caused. Not to mention that residents will find the lake less appealing and the housing market will go down if coves become too shallow to use and water quality becomes a problem.
Dredging at lakes can be done in two different ways: mechanically or hydraulically. Mechanical dredging is the old school way of dredging as it takes a piece of equipment such as a backhoe places it on a barge and manually uses the bucket to dig up the sediment from the lake bottom, deposit it in the barge, and then haul it away. Hydraulic dredging is a newer system which uses tubes and a suction like system to essentially vacuum the sediment away from the lake.
When it comes to both types of dredging both can be effective with removing sediment, however they do have distinctive pros and cons. Hydraulic dredging greatly reduces the risk of re-suspension. Re-suspension happens when sediment is moved around from the bottom of the lake and not removed, sometimes particles and other things in the sediment are bad for the aquatic life and can have a negative effect on it at that particular lake. However hydraulic dredging can also be vastly more expensive compared to mechanical but can be done a lot faster. Bigger lakes such as Tappan Lake used hydraulic dredging the past few years to cover ground faster as the lake is over 2,000 acres. However it ended up being a multi million dollar project. Many lakes take several seasons to dredge their lake if done mechanically. Mechanical dredging can be cheaper and also has an easier time getting back in smaller or tighter coves since they can remove sediment from the shore as well as from the water and the mechanical bucket can reach into smaller spaces such as at Lake Waynoka. The lake has a lot of coves and so for the past few years has decided to use mechanical dredging to clear their coves of sediment build up. Hydraulic can also have a harder time picking up anything other than silt, if there are rocks or other large unwanted items at the lake mechanical is the way to go.
How it Affects You
Lakefront residents need to understand that dredging is a natural maintenance of any lake, although some need it more than others. Residents should not be concerned if this comes up at their lake, instead they need to be prepared for it. Residents need to understand that each type of dredging has a different advantage and one or the other may be better for their lake’s sedimentation problem. Residents also need to know that each type has a cost and they need to understand to plan ahead for it. If at a private lake the HOA should be aware of the possibility of the problem and have a plan in place if it ever arises. Make sure to talk to your lakefront specialist about the lakes you are interested in and if they have a need for dredging, have dredged recently, or have a plan in place if the need arises. And remember:
Life is Short!
Written By – Justin Shelton Lakefront Consultant – The Lake Team