The issue of dumping Cuyahoga River dredge material into the open waters of Lake Erie was debated tonight in Cleveland. The public hearing was held by the Army Corps of Engineers, which backs lake dumping because it would save money. The Corps is threatening to reduce the shipping channel dredging until the issue is resolved. That was strongly rebuffed by opponents who say it would damage the environment and economy.
The hearing at St. Ignatius High School started with Army Corps District Commander Karl Jansen defending the decision to cut the agency's budget to for clearing the Cuyahoga River’s shipping channel. He says the reduction helped pay for dredging elsewhere at a time when the district has a $30 million budget shortfall. And he refuted Ohio EPA studies that say the sediment is too polluted to put into the lake.
But during the comment period, Susan Miller, one of about 100 people who attended, said the Corps’ plan doesn’t make sense while sewer rates have risen to keep overflow out of the lake.
“We are supposed to pay these incredibly increased rates to clean up our lake on the one hand while agreeing to let the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dump toxic sludge in it on the other? We think not.”
Corps officials reiterated that it would put the sediment in more expensive land-based containment facilities if the state pays the addition cost. State and local officials said the Corps is bound by federal law to keep shipping channels open based on state safety standards. A federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order on lake dumping.