Hobart councilman urges plan for lake dredging
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent August 13, 2013 4:10PM
Updated: September 15, 2013 6:28AM
HOBART — An abundance of weeds once again has made Lake George difficult to navigate by boat, prompting Councilman Dave Vinzant, D-4th, to suggest the City Council begin working on a dredging plan and ways to finance it.
“If we’re going to commit ourselves to being a lakefront community, we need to put dollars into it,” Vinzant said.
Residents attended a City Council meeting last year to complain about the weeds, and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources received $250,000 from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services to remove the invasive plant species from the waters.
But Vinzant said the weeds are even worse this year.
He said there is no single cause for the influx of duckweed, coontail and other noxious weeds that are invading the lake, but a lot of contributing factors, the biggest of which is the fact that the lake is getting more shallow due to a buildup of silt. He said this is due to the fact that the lake was formed by damming Deep River and the nature of its clay soil.
“We might be able to control the silt a little better, but dredging is something we need to commit to every 10 to 15 years,” Vinzant said.
“Killing weeds is just a Band-Aid at this point,” Vinzant said.
He said the city needs to start thinking about the cost to dredge the lake and how to do it in the most cost-efficient way. Fortunately, he said the place where the sludge was dumped last time still has room available and the pipe used is still in good shape, potentially resulting in some savings.
Council President Jerry Herzog, D-1st, said funds may be available through the new county-wide stormwater fee.
“It’s something the city needs to do. We’re taking a lot of runoff coming downstream that settles at the bottom of the lake,” Herzog said.
He said it’s only fair that other communities whose water ends up in Lake George should share in the cost to dredge the lake.
The city last dredged the lake in 2000, removing about 590,000 cubic yards of silt at a cost of more than $2 million. The money came from a $3.8 million park bond that also was used to pay for Lakefront Park.
Vinzant said boaters and lakeside residents and businesses aren’t the only ones that benefit from Lake George.
“Everyone benefits from the lake, the community as a whole and everyone in the Deep River watershed. If Lake George doesn’t drain, those other communities don’t drain. What would that mean to New Chicago and Lake Station,” Vinzant said.