Wonder Lake dredging project waits on permit

Wonder Lake Master Property Owners Association hopes for fall start

WONDER LAKE – After years of delays and hearings, the dredging project at Wonder Lake may move forward as early as this fall.

The Wonder Lake Master Property Owners Association is waiting on one more permit from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

With permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources already in hand, the association decided to start the bidding process for a sediment drying facility, which would need to be built before any dredging can happen.

The project is designed to deepen Wonder Lake by churning up soil at the bottom of the lake and then sucking it up, lake manager Randy Stowe said. The soil and water then will be deposited in the sediment drying facility, which is basically a dug-out basin with a concrete structure to control the flow of water.

Some of the water will evaporate, and some of it, once it’s cleared of sediment, will be released back into the lake, he said. If the sediment can be sold, it may be used to finance additional dredging.

Because the dredging would take a whole season, the association hopes to build the sediment drying facility this fall, Stowe said. If it doesn’t get the permit in time, the facility then would have to be built next year and the dredging couldn’t happen until 2015.

The construction will take three to four months and won’t involve a lot of traffic coming and going, he said, adding that for nearby residents, it will be like living near the construction of a new house.

The dredging project has faced several delays over the years as commenters raised concerns about possible pollutants buried in the sediment that would be released into the water with the dredging process.

The association disputes these claims, citing multiple testings, and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s public notice said the project would not cause any increases in pollutants except for some suspended solids near the dredging site.

The establishment of the special service area that is paying for the project also faced opposition from those who argued against raising property taxes to fund a largely recreational project.

An extension to the 30-day public notice period required as part of the IEPA’s permitting process has been requested. The notice period ended July 10.

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