US Army Corps of Engineers: Redesign Current Mississippi River Pool 4 Dredging Plan

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We acknowledge that there is a need for a coordinated, long-term plan for managing dredged material in the Upper Mississippi River for the purpose of continued operation and maintenance of the 9-foot navigation channel. However, the Mississippi River Pool 4 plans, as currently proposed, will have a devastating impact on:

  • Property values and property tax base—negatively impacting the financial stability and success of the community
  • Quality of life for residents—blocking river views of private homes, 24/7 noise of dumping operations, use of local residential roads for trucking operations within quiet neighborhoods, which brings up safety concerns of citizens (many are children) who use those roads daily for walking, bicycling, etc.
  • Multi-generationally owned farms—whose current younger generation's goal is to continue maintaining their successful family business
  • Tourism—home of the National Eagle Center
  • Environment—proposed dumping site on Southside Fitzgerald property is home to bald eagles and many other forms of wildlife

At the June 15th public meeting in Wabasha, Corps representatives stated that they had no choice but to proceed with the proposed plan because of federal regulations stating that they were required to implement the least costly option. Would the current plan produce long term cost savings or short term cost savings? Wouldn’t it be more fiscally responsible to resolve the issue at the source?

During public comment sessions, numerous alternatives were offered to the Corps. Among them were: creating beaches and islands, transporting the sand via barge or rail to locations where it is wanted, and others. We suggest that the Corps prevent sand in the Chippewa River from entering the Mississippi by implementing the dredging technique currently used to maintain the Cleveland, OH port. At the Cleveland port, the Corps of Engineers is using a bed load interceptor to capture sediment from the Cuyahoga River before it enters the port area, rather than dredging it out after the fact. This technique has a cost savings of $16 per cubic yard. (It costs the Corps $17 per cubic yard to dredge sediment from the Cleveland shipping channel; it costs only about $1 per cubic yard to collect sediment in the interceptor). The full report is available at: http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2017/05/cleveland_ports_dredging_solution.html

Furthermore, US Senators Amy Klobuchar, Al Franken and Tammy Baldwin have indicated in writing that implementing a plan that is least costly is, in fact, not a federal requirement but, rather, an Army Corps regulation. We join them in asking that this policy be waived in this instance and that the Corps find alternative solutions and locations for the dredged material.

We propose that, at the very least, the current plans be modified to:

  • Eliminate the seizing of prime, privately owned farms through eminent domain
  • Not include storing sand between private homes and their view of the river
  • Not route trucks through residential neighborhoods

Please be aware that hundreds of opponents gathered in a peaceful demonstration to object to the Corps of Engineers’ plans for our community. These citizens request that the Corps respect their right to maintain their American way of life. Coverage of this event can be viewed at: http://www.wrex.com/story/36006085/2017/07/30/hundreds-gather-in-wabasha-to-create-human-art-piece-visible-from-the-sky

Sharon M Burke



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