Buckeye Lake’s long awaited new dredge to go out for bids later this year

Michaela Sumner

Newark Advocate
The view of a new public path and Buckeye Lake, from North Bank.

BUCKEYE LAKE – The long awaited new dredge that could improve water quality in Buckeye Lake should be going out for bid later this year.

In a Facebook post last week, Buckeye Lake Region Corporation announced the news from Ohio Department of Natural Resources that a new dredge would soon be going out to bid for the lake.

“We had been told several times in the past month and a half or so that this was likely, but we didn’t hear until maybe a week and a half ago that it was truly going out to bid,” BLRC Director Mike Fornataro told The Advocate. “There’s been a need for a new dredge at the lake for so long that when you see something like this, you just hope against hope that it’s true.”

More:No. 7 story of 2018: Buckeye Lake dam reopens

Ohio Senator Jay Hottinger said it’s been a lengthy process, but ever since the dam project was completed, they realized the immediate next need was a new dredger for the lake.

Fornataro said once the bids are done, it will take as many as seven months for the new dredge to be built to the specifications needed for the lake. He anticipated it could be placed in the lake as early as later this year or in 2022.

Hottinger said any bid will have to come before the controlling board before the project moves forward. He acknowledged the dredge isn’t a “solve all,” but will play a part in improving water quality.

Although Fornataro said agricultural partners around Buckeye Lake have worked to control runoff into the waters, the lake’s largest problem with water clarity and quality is the phosphorous and nitrogen in the bottom of the lake, which serves as food for algae.

“Once that is removed, it will have effects on clarity and quality of the water,” he explained, adding it would add depth to the lake as well.

From his understanding, Fornataro said the intention is the new dredge would begin in the east end of the lake with the most aggressive dredging. Working in conjunction with the new dredge will be existing ones that do channels and other areas of the lake.

Fornataro explained the existing dredges were built in the 1960’s and are analog. The new dredge will have the ability to reach areas not currently navigable due to silt on the bottom of the lake.

He anticipated northern Perry County would be the first to see the impact as far as accessibility and ease of navigation goes.

More:Recovering from dam project, Buckeye Lake businesses push on during coronavirus pandemic

According to Fornataro, Buckeye Lake Region Corporation has been pushing for a new dredge since their inception in 2017, however, other entities have worked just as hard for it.

Fornataro noted the state of Ohio has made an investment into Buckeye Lake, first with a new dam and now a new dredge.

“What did it take to get here? I can’t go buy a new dredge. Buckeye Lake Region Corporation can’t go buy a new dredge,” he said. “I took the efforts of elected officials pushing for this and making it a priority for the state budget to release the funds to do that. We can advocate all we want, but without elected officials, this never would’ve happened.”

Hottinger said he’s excited about what’s happening in the area and the best days of Buckeye Lake are still in front of it.

“All investments really hinge upon a healthy lake. It’s not the solve all, but a new dredger won’t be breaking down hopefully,” Hottinger said, noting Buckeye Lake’s future hinges on the water quality there.

Adding a little fun to the project, Fornataro said they’ll be holding a contest to name the new dredge in partnership with ODNR. Details will be announced at a later date.

For more information, visit Buckeye Lake Region Corporation’s Facebook page.