August 25, 2016

Dredging Update from Great Salt Lake Marina

Read below for the latest update from Great Salt Lake Marina on the dredging efforts. Stay tuned for more information as FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake receives it. 
As many of you are aware of, Dredging went out for bid in July with a mandatory pre-bid meeting late July.  That meant that, if a company was interested in bidding, they must attend the pre-bid meeting.  We had one company show up for the pre-bid meeting.  This took us by surprise since we had several companies express interest in the project.
In early August we received one bid for dredging.  That bid was then analyzed and rejected.  The reason it was rejected is that it wasn’t completely responsive to the Request for Proposal (RFP).  And the bidding company stated that, after building the retention pond and running a pipe to the pond site, there was only enough money to remove 1 inch of mud from the marina. 
Today we had another meeting to discuss what we needed to change in the bid and a path forward to successfully dredge.
In the original dredge bidding process it was desired to try and dredge without an Army Corp permit so that dredging could happen as quick as possible.  But not pursuing a permit  we learned it limited us on how much material could be dredged. 
In order to dredge as much spoils as possible we now have two permitting routes open to us through ACOE.  One is an Individual Permit.  The other is the Nationwide Permit.  Ideally we would like to deposit dredging spoils in the pond behind the marina.  But this would require mitigation of 5 to 10 acres of wetlands.  And it would require an Individual Permit.  Estimated mitigation would cost anywhere from $325,000 to $700,000.  And this is if a mitigation bank can be found.  The time frame for an Individual Permit would be a minimum of a year with no guarantee that Army Corp would approve us dumping spoils on the wetland behind the marina.
So it has been decided that we will pursue a path for a Nationwide permit.  This gives us more flexibility on how dredging is done and substantially lowers the cost of spoils containment.  And the Nationwide Permit is a much quicker process as well as likelihood of approval.  It has also been decided to open up options of how the dredging is done.  This could include suction dredging, wet excavation or a coffer dam and dry excavation.
Most of the hard work on putting a new RFP together for bidding is already done.  It is expected that the new RFP will be released around late September with the contract being awarded early to mid-November.  Because of the breach being imminent we are also pursuing a path of emergency dredging for the mouth of the marina so that Search & Rescue efforts can be maintained.  Emergency dredging may be possible early November.
Timeline for dredging to begin looks like late Spring or early Summer at this time.  I will keep you posted.
It isn’t good! We have had a long hot summer which has taken its toll on the lake.  And the railroad breach appears to be imminent.  It is scheduled to be breached on September 30th.  And lake level loss due to the breach is about 1 to 1.3 feet.  Remember this is just an estimate.  It could be less.  It could be more.  And we are likely to lose another 0.6 feet from evaporation.  There are a couple of us that have done some estimating and calculations on where the lake will bottom out at in November.  We are all within 0.3 feet of each other.  The average of the estimates is that we will bottom out at 419.0 feet above sea level or 1.8 feet lower than we are now.  Again it may be less than that.  It may be more.  The effects of the breach are just not completely known.  But we are likely to have about 1.3 feet of water in the shallow spots of the mouth (without dredging) after evaporation ends and breaching happens.
There are several of us working on trying to move back the timing of the breach to December.  But it sounds like we will be lucky to get it postponed to late October at best.  I will keep you informed.