Boater Safety, Water Flow at Issue

In August and September last year, several boats grounded  on Lake River at low tide, underscoring the urgent necessity for Lake River dredging by the Corp of Engineers. Sand moving along the Columbia River is narrowing and shallowing the navigation channel of Lake River. The good news is that $150,000 has been earmarked by Congress for Corp work to engineer the project this year. Once the  engineering is complete, funds for the actual dredging will need to be secured. Dredging is expected to be in the $400,000 – $500,000 range and is slated for 2021 or 2022.

It has been nearly 40 years since Lake River was last dredged. A survey of Lake River between Ridgefield and the Columbia River was conducted in 2014. The survey indicated the channel depth at the mouth of Lake River needed immediate attention. Dredging is not an annual project or need, but the channel at the mouth of Lake River does require periodic maintenance.

Lake River is a federally authorized navigable channel, and the Corp is authorized to expend funds on dredging it. Federal dredge funds are appropriated to the Corp for this work are extremely limited and are prioritized in a competitively based system of cost/benefit analysis. With this funding model,it’s taken years for Lake River dredging to rise to the top of the Corp’s list – but consistent

”Adequate water flow in the river improves the health of Lake River and Vancouver Lake, important to the overall ecosystem.”

Bruce Wiseman, Port Commissioner

city and Port of Ridgefield advocacy along with congressional support from Senators Murray and Cantwell and Representative Herrera Beutler – has helped make this happen.

In addition to boater safety considerations, Lake River dredging is important for many other reasons. Port CEO Brent Grening highlighted afew of them. “While keeping boaters safe is our first priority, restoring commercial access to Millers’ Landing, the Ridgefield boat launch, McCuddy’s Marina and Felida Moorage are necessary to keep businesses healthy and allow greater recreational use of the river,” Grening said. “This serves to retain and increase boating-related tourism.”

Port Commission Bruce Wiseman also raised the issue of water quality.

“Adequate water flow in the river improves the health of Lake River and Vancouver Lake, important to the overall ecosystem and water quality.” Wiseman has maintained regular contact with Corp representatives, and was the first to learn the Corp was moving forward on engineering for the project, and the sand disposal method planned.

“I found out its been determined there’s no requirement for more expensive upland disposal,” Wiseman said. “Instead, the estimated 7,000 yards of material removed will be put back into the Columbia River where it will be naturally carried downstream,helping to keep the cost down.”