Archive for Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Businesses hope to increase dredging along Kansas River; environmentalists warn process is destructive

November 15, 2011, 4:47 p.m.

Updated: December 7, 2011, 12:00 a.m.

Kaw dredging proposal

• Currently, five companies are authorized to dredge 2.2 million tons annually from 10 locations on the river. That permit expires at the end of 2012.

• Under the new proposal, which would run for five years, the same companies are asking for dredging authorization for 13 sites and 3.2 million tons annually.

• The proposed sites span an 80-mile stretch of the river, from Shawnee County to Wyandotte County, including Douglas County.

• The companies seeking permits are Kaw Valley Companies, Holliday Sand & Gravel, Penny’s Aggregates, Master’s Dredging and Meier’s Ready Mix.

Several area companies hope to increase the amount of sand and gravel dredged from the Kansas River by 1 million tons per year.

But before that happens, the public has the opportunity to weigh in.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency responsible for issuing dredging permits, is accepting public comment until Friday regarding proposals by five companies for new permits on 13 locations along an 80-mile stretch of the Kansas River, from Shawnee County to Wyandotte County.

The current dredging permit, which expires at the end of 2012, authorizes five companies to dredge 2.2 million tons annually from 10 sites. The new proposals, by the same five companies, seek to increase the tonnage dredged to 3.2 million. If a new permit is issued, it will run from 2013 to the end of 2017.

Environmental advocates say the increase is detrimental to the water supply and natural habitats in the area.

“River dredging is very destructive, and the cumulative effects are not in the public interest,” said Laura Calwell of Friends of the Kaw, an environmental advocacy group. “Dredging stirs up sediments and industrial pollutants that threaten our drinking water.”

Calwell said her group had advocated for a decrease and eventual stop to dredging on the river, or, at the least, no increase to the current tonnage limits.

Kale Horton, with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City Regulatory Office, said the decision process for the permits would take place over the next year and could include adjustments to the tonnage limits requested by the sand companies.

“It’s a back and forth,” said Horton, who encouraged citizens to contact his office to comment.

Horton can be contacted by email at kale.e.horton@usace.army.mil, or by phone at (816) 389-3656.

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