St. Paul District: More Work Needed On Dredged Material Placement Plans

After extending a public comment period on its plans for disposing of material dredged from Pool 6 of the Upper Mississippi River, the St. Paul Engineer District has concluded it needs more time to work out acceptable alternatives.

The issue of disposing of dredged material has received heightened attention since an early proposal two years ago involved taking productive riverside land through eminent domain. After that sparked heated controversy and pushback from local officials, the Corps has proceeded more carefully.

On April 10, the St. Paul District said it “will be revising its recently published draft Mississippi River Pool 6 dredged material management plan based on the comments it received during its public comment period that ended April 10.”

“After reviewing comments to the draft plan, Corps officials believe the best path forward is to re-evaluate the draft plan to determine if there are more options available for the permanent placement of dredged material within the area. Corps staff plan to continue working with their federal, state and local partners to identify additional opportunities in the coming months. While the draft plan is being re-evaluated, Corps staff will rely on currently approved plans to maintain the Mississippi River navigation channel within Pool 6. This will most likely include additional material being placed on the Corps’ Homer Pit, located south of Winona, and the 1-acre upland placement site located on Latsch Island. Initial forecasts indicate at least 40,000 cubic yards of dredged material will need to be removed from the channel this year.”

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The district said it doesn’t have an anticipated completion date at this time, but it will publish a revised draft for public comment once the review is complete. The exact number will fluctuate due to constantly changing river conditions.

Bob Edstrom, the St. Paul District project manager leading the planning effort, said he believes “the additional time will help the Corps and the communities, find solutions that are reasonable for everyone. These plans are difficult but necessary to ensure commodities such as Midwest grains can be shipped quickly, safely and with the least cost compared to alternate transportation methods.”

The comment period that began February 4 was extended 30 days to ensure the public had more time to understand the draft plan and to provide comments. Corps of Engineers officials held a public meeting to discuss the draft plan February 11.

The draft plan outlined the transportation and land requirements to permanently place dredged material removed from Pool 6 for the next 20 years.