RED WING -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers St. Paul District has awarded a contract to Newt Marine of Dubuque, Iowa, to remove dredged material from Corps Island, a temporary storage location in Pool 3 near Diamond Bluff, Wis.

The agreement specified that the successful contractor would locate and secure a disposal location for the dredged material.

“We went through several options and came up with what we think is the most beneficial reuse disposal location near Corps Island,” said Marcus Murphy, general manager of Newt Marine, at a public meeting at the Holiday Inn Express in Red Wing on Aug. 21. “We have worked an agreement with the Prairie Island Indian Community to deposit material on land they own. We understand they have ideas for the beneficial reuse of the material.”

Marcus Murphy, general manager of Newt Marine, explains how his company will remove dredged material from Corps Island to Prairie Island during a public meeting held at the Holiday Inn Express on Aug. 21.  Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia
Marcus Murphy, general manager of Newt Marine, explains how his company will remove dredged material from Corps Island to Prairie Island during a public meeting held at the Holiday Inn Express on Aug. 21. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia

Newt Marine expects to begin dredging next week, and by working around the clock from 6 a.m. each Monday morning to 6 p.m. every Friday night, they will be removing 500,000 cubic yards of dredged material from Corps Island over a period of 10 to 12 weeks, according to Murphy.

“We will be hydraulically depositing the material through a pipeline,” Murphy said. “It will go through a 20-inch dredge, a 20-inch booster pump, then through a pipeline to land owned by Prairie Island. We believe that hydraulically placing the material is the most efficient means.”

Murphy said one of the reasons for holding public meetings on projects like this is so that residents can get to know the people who are doing the work. He noted that moving dredged materials causes disruptions in the community and on the river, but assured that the company was doing everything possible to minimize the inconvenience.

“We have a job to get done,” he said. “We need to move the sand. It is integral to the inland waterways, and we will do the best we can to complete the contract we’ve been tasked and be good neighbors in the meantime.”

One question from the public was in regards to groundwater and what might happen to drinking water as a result of the project. Jesse Speer, superintendent for Newt Marine, explained that if there were any problems during the time they were pumping, drinking water would be provided to anyone who needed it, and he added that after the project is finished, a third party will conduct well tests to make sure water remained safe. He offered a signup sheet for anyone interested.

Similar unload projects have been conducted at Corps Island with the most recent in 2010-2011, but Corps Island has been filled up again since then.

“During the last two unloads, the material went to Wisconsin, because we, the Corps, were able to work something out with local landowners there to take the material,” said Paul Machejewski, dredged material manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “Now it is better for us to put out a contract and ask the contractor to unload the sand, because they have more flexibility and resources to find a home quicker than we would. We are using the experts to find a home and get the sand there in the least costly way to the taxpayers.”

Machejewski explained that for the 2010-2011 unload, the dredged material was removed in trucks. The current plan to use slurry pipelines “will be better than having all the trucks coming through the community,” Machejewski said.

This current project will remove not only all the sand on the island, but dig below water level, leaving a small cove temporarily. The cove will be filled in as more dredged materials are removed from the river in the future.

Because the unloading projects are a recurring event, Murphy said he hopes that in the future they can find “a way for us to dredge and not put the sand back on Corps Island, but just handle it once. If you put it there, you’ve got to move it again later.”