Saginaw River dredging set to begin in Saginaw County

Published: Thursday, June 10, 2010, 8:02 AM     Saginaw News  Updated: Thursday, June 10, 2010, 10:07 AM

ZILWAUKEE TWP. — Crews are getting ready to dredge the Saginaw River to make the channel deeper and safer for passing ships.

Share The federally funded $4.3 million project will remove about 110,000 cubic yards of spoils from the Upper Saginaw River this year between the city of Saginaw and the mouth of the river, said Wayne Schloop, chief of operations for the Detroit District Army Corps of Engineers.

Cheboygan-based Ryba Marine Construction Co. will earn about $1.3 million for dredging the spoils and transporting them to the Dredged Material Disposal Facility on the Saginaw-Bay County line.

Officials say the Saginaw River plays a vital role in the region’s economy — ships carry salt for roads, fertilizer for crops, coal for power and aggregate stone materials for road and other construction — and the dredging will improve deteriorating shipping conditions caused by the buildup of silt.

“It’s forced ships to lighten their loads,” said James A. Koski, Saginaw County public works commissioner. “Now, they won’t have to do that.”

Because of shallow waters and shoal areas, ships traveling the Saginaw River have had to lighten their loads by 15 percent or more, limiting profits and requiring more trips.

Koski said the Saginaw River is the second busiest port in Michigan and maintaining it is important for local dock owners and the local economy in general.

Schloop of the Corps said biannual dredging typically removes between 100,000 and 200,000 cubic yards of spoils.

Maintenance dredging on the river began last year and Schloop said it’s possible more dredging is needed, but ships should be able to load very efficiently after this round of work is complete.

“I certainly think the Saginaw River is a very important navigational project for the region and the economy of the region,” Schloop said. “We want to keep doing everything we can to improve the economic climate as much as possible.”

TRW Note: This article, published 6/10/10 implies dredging is to start soon.  Per the EPA, dredging actually started 5/17/10,

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