CROWN POINT | Lake County officials are inviting contractors to bid on $1.3 million in newly approved drainage ditch projects this season.
The Lake County commissioners, acting as the county's drainage board, voted to advertise for vendors to clear several miles of silted-in channels and overgrown ditch banks.
They include sections of Hart Ditch between the Illinois state line and U.S. 30 and near Calumet Avenue and 213th Street in Dyer; Beaver Dam Ditch Lateral 6 near Lake Street in Crown Point; and Cady Marsh Ditch from Grace Street to Liable Street in Highland.
There also will be work on a section of the Brown Levee Ditch, running parallel to the Kankakee River in Eagle Creek Township, and a four-mile section of the Ernie Niemeyer Creek, also running alongside the Kankakee River.
It's part of a flood-control effort on which the county has spent more than $23.6 million since 1993 on more than 254 ditch and levee repair and maintenance projects. The program was put on hiatus last year when property tax revenues fell drastically, but has been revived by the recent adoption of a county income tax.
Lake County Surveyor George Van Til said his office is still investigating the cause of the failure of a reinforcement wall recently built along a stretch of Plum Creek in Dyer.
Metal wire baskets containing small stones that were supposed to protect the ditch bank from erosion slumped off a steep-banked section and into the stream after a heavy April rain.
Eric Krieg, of Munster, who ran unsuccessfully for surveyor last year, asked the drainage board whether the county could pinpoint the source of a chemical found floating April 11 on the Cady Marsh Ditch.
Van Til said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hasn't determined the source.
An EPA spokesman said earlier that the chemical, identified as a lubricant used in masonry construction, appeared to have entered the waterway by accident. Federal, state and local officials worked to clean up the seven-mile drainage ditch through Calumet Township, Griffith, Highland and Munster.