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Ohio EPA awards $100,000 to research using dredged Lake Erie sediment on farm fields

October 12, 2018

Ohio EPA awards $100,000 to research using dredged Lake Erie sediment on farm fields

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Every year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredges eight Lake Erie harbors, so freighters can glide in and out of the ports.

For years, the Corps dumped the silt dredged from the lake bed back into the lake -- a practice Cleveland long fought and the state outlawed beginning in 2020.

Recent tests of sediment dredged from the Cuyahoga River shows that PCB levels remain dangerously high.

So what to do with the dredged material? The Ohio EPA wants to find productive uses, through beach replenishment, habitat restoration, landscaping, road construction, land reclamation, landfill cover and manufacture of products such as concrete, brick, block and topsoil.

The EPA also believes the dredged material could be used to enrich farm fields.

“We’re not trying to find just another place to dump dredge material, but to find a place where the dredge material can add value to the community,” said David Emerman, dredge program administrator for the EPA.

The EPA is hosting an Ohio Dredged Material Summit on Oct. 15 at Lorain County Community College to discuss the benefits of the material.

Meanwhile, the Ohio Lake Erie Commission has awarded two $50,000 Lake Erie Protection Fund Grants to research using sediment on farm fields. The phosphorus in the material could reduce the need for fertilizer, Emerman said.

Megan Rua at Wright State University will study whether cover crops will improve beneficial microorganisms and reduce contaminants in dredge.

Angélica Vásquez-Ortega at Bowling Green State University will evaluate corn yield, metal uptake, and metal and nutrient runoff, using various proportions of a dredge/soil mix.

The harbors are dredged to accommodate the Great Lakes shipping industry, which supports $3.8 billion of economic activity in Ohio.

The state aims to help governments and companies capitalize on the benefits of the dredged sediment.

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