Locks and Dams

Corps Finds Home For Pool 5 Dredged Material

The Corps of Engineers said on July 24 it has found a home for dredged material from Pool 5 of the Mississippi River that could last it from 80 to 100 years.

Paul Machajewski, dredged material manager for the St. Paul Engineer District, told local media the district had purchased 1,000 acres of land southeast of Kellogg, Iowa, from willing local sellers to serve as a permanent storage site for silt dredged from Pool 5, the section of the Upper Mississippi River that stretches from Lock and Dam 5 to Lock and Dam 4 near Alma, Wis.. The dredging maintains the channel to make it navigable for barge traffic. The district has been consulting for two years with local leaders about suitable sites for dredged material since existing sites were filled to capacity.

The district takes about 120,000 cubic yards of material a year from Pool 5. About 75 acres of the new property will be used initially for dredged material storage. Another 300 acres are considered wetland, though the Corps said it is still evaluating the land. The rest of the land will be rented as farmland for the foreseeable future.

The initial storage site of 75 acres should last about 20 years with the Corps piling dredge material to a height of 10 to 15 feet. At the end of that period, the land will either become sand prairie with native grassland on top, or the Corps will work with the University of Minnesota and the county extension office to place topsoil atop the 75 acres and see if it can be returned to farmland. The district will consult with local and state entities on the land’s use. The storage site will be surrounded by prairie grass with a spot set aside where the public can come take dredge material for alternate use.

The district changed the way it looks for disposal sites after a backlash developed to its announced 2017 plan to use eminent domain to seize riverfront land for disposal of material from Pool 4. The Pool 4 effort is still ongoing, but since then the district has sought willing sellers and community engagement to support its efforts, Machajewski said.