St. Paul Engineer District Delays Draft Sand Disposal Report

The St. Paul Engineer District has postponed the release of a controversial sand-disposal proposal until “late spring or early summer,” according to district spokesperson George Stringham. The draft report was to have been released December 15, according to a self-imposed deadline.

The initial draft was released in May 2017 and the public comment period ended in August, but the district “has a lot of prior feedback to collate and process,” Stringham told The Waterways Journal. Once a revised draft is released, another public comment period will restart.

Before releasing a statement about the postponement, the district’s commander, Col. Sam Calkins, personally called local stakeholders, including the mayor of Wabasha, Minn. The district has improved its communications since some locals found out last spring from news accounts that initial drafts of the proposal involved taking land using eminent domain from a productive riverside farm; the news sparked widespread backlash.

The proposal involves a 40-year plan for disposing of dredged materials from Lower Pool 4 of the Upper Mississippi River near Wabasha, Minn. The district says silting has been increasing, and it is running out of disposal sites for the dredged material.

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The Lower Pool 4 Dredged Material Management Plan (DMMP) notes that costs of dredging the sites have increased recently. “Costs associated with managing the dredged material have increased significantly over the past 20 years, so the DMMP also looked for ways to reduce cost. Lower Pool 4 has six active dredge cuts where maintenance dredging has occurred. These dredge cuts are expected to generate 10.7 million cubic yards of dredged material over the next 40 years, or about 270,000 cubic yards annually.”