STOCK_Whihala Beach

STOCK_Whihala Beach

WHITING — The city plans to dredge about 10,000 cubic yards of material from the area around the Whihala Beach boat launch this spring if the Indiana Department of Environmental Management approves it.

"Through the wave action, it fills up with sand and gravel over the years, and every few years we do a dredge there to deepen it so boats have access to get in and out," said Bruce Stolman, the city's economic development director.

The proposed project is on public notice until March 8. Until then, any person who wants to submit to IDEM information regarding any possible effects the project could have on water quality can do so. IDEM then will determine if a public hearing on the matter is needed.

Brady Hagerty, digital media manager for IDEM, responded via email that Whiting received the same Section 401 Water Quality Certification for a similar dredging project in March 2016.

Hagerty's email stated IDEM must decide if sediment testing is necessary and that the application is being reviewed to determine if precautions have been included in the plan to minimize potential negative effects on water quality or aquatic life.

Stolman said the city has decided to purchase its own dredge for financial and practical reasons.

He said a contracted dredging of the boat launch can cost between $270,000 and $325,000.

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Stolman said the cost to purchase a hydraulic dredge, which he described as a 40-foot boat with a ladder-like boom that is lowered to the lake bottom to vacuum sand, is about $359,000. Associated equipment is expected to cost approximately $125,000.

Stolman said the city will not have to depend on a contractor's schedule if it has its own dredge and that it can lease out the dredge to recoup costs.

He said the proposed dredge this time around will be different in that geotextile bags will be used to contain the dredge material.

Stolman said the material dredged from the boat launch area is pretty clean since it is mostly sand, but the city still has to go through the permit process.

"They want to make sure that you're containing the silt that you dredge up and it doesn't run back into the lake," Stolman said.

He said putting sand dredged back onto the beach helps prevent erosion.

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