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Environment


How to get rid of the dirt dredged from Cuyahoga River
Cleveland Port Authority says the sediment pulled from the river could be used for construction, but how much should they charge? 
by WKSU's M.L. SCHULTZE
and ANNA STAVER


Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
 
Enough dirt to fill the Quicken Loans Arena is pulled from the Cuyahoga River each year. It is currently sent to landfills, but Cleveland’s Port Authority hopes to start selling the sediment or giving it away.
Courtesy of Flickr
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Ohio Democrats and Republicans agree that a federal program crucial to the dredging of Cleveland’s port does not have enough money. But they disagree on why and what should be done about it. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more. 

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The Cuyahoga River is growing narrower for two reasons.

The first is money: The Army Corps of Engineers doesn’t have enough to dredge as deeply and widely as it would like.

Cleveland’s Port Authority says the corps dredges about a third less sediment from the river than it did a few years ago.

The second problem is space: Despite the decrease in dredging, the corps removes enough sediment to fill a bowl the size of Quicken Loans Arena each year. And it’s running out of landfills to dump it in.

Republican Rep. Bob Gibbs and Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown agree that keeping the Cuyahoga River open for shipping is vital to Ohio’s economy. What they disagree on is what is causing the money problem.

Gibbs says there is enough money for more dredging coming from a tax shippers pay to bring cargo through the ports.

But he says only 50 percent of that fund actually goes to maintaining the harbors.

“We’ve got to cut spending in ways that we need to cut. But here is an area where we have a trust fund already in place, and they’re robbing the trust fund for other uses. We need to use it to make sure that our harbors and ports are up to standards to handle the increase in traffic.”

 

Port Authority hopes to sell the dirt 

Cleveland’s Port Authority wants to sell or give away hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of sediment dredged from the Cuyahoga River.

The port’s CEO William Friedman says enough dirt is pulled out each year to fill a bowl the size of Quicken Loans Arena. It’s now stored in landfills on the lake front, and Friedman says the Army Corps of Engineers is running out room.

He says the dredging material contains sand, rocks and dirt that could be used for construction, beach renewal and brownfield remediation.

The question now is deciding what price the port could charge for the sediment. 

Friedman says he doesn't want the soil to end up in a landfill.
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“And even if we aren’t selling the material for a lot of money, or even if we were just in essence providing the material for free, it still could be less expensive over the long run and be more beneficial to redevelopment projects than placing it in these big landfills effectively throwing it away in the lake front.”

The sediment is dredged so big cargo ships can navigate the Cuyahoga River without scraping the bottom.

Friedman says he met Thursday with the Army Corps of Engineers and it is receptive. If the Core goes along, he hopes to start operations by the end of next year. 

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