By Matthew Reitz
This year’s dredging efforts by Fulton’s Lake Neatahwanta cleanup committee are slightly behind schedule following a delay on the contractor’s end.
Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward Sr. said efforts were set to begin earlier this month, but a delay has set the operation back several weeks. Woodward said the individual who runs the dredge had a medical issue, but will arrive in the city to begin setting up next week. Groh Dredging and Marine Construction, the same contractor the committee used last year, will take several days to get situated, but sediment removal should begin within a week of their arrival, according to Woodard.
“He will be here next week, and hopefully be able to start shortly after,” Woodward said.
Chairman of Granby’s Lake Neatahwanta Reclamation Committee Ed Williamson said that committee’s dredging operation is underway and slowly, but steadily, moving forward.
“We’re training more volunteers so we can keep a full-time operation,” Williamson said. He said a volunteer has also agreed to take aerial photographs of the lake, which will allow the committee to track its progress and identify any areas that may need further attention. Williamson said the operation isn’t “something that happens overnight,” and stressed the importance of continued efforts on both sides of the lake.
Fulton’s committee — the Lake Neatahwanta Revitalization Corporation — began work last September after awarding the project to Groh. In just two months, the contractor had removed over 20,000 cubic yards of sediment. Both Woodward and Williamson hope that success can be repeated.
“They did a nice job last year,” Williamson said of the operation in Fulton. “The main purpose is to get the lake cleaned so we can use it again.”
Rather than hire a contractor, Granby’s committee opted to purchase the equipment and conduct the work with volunteers. Williamson said the on-shore infrastructure is now totally functional and one of the collection pits is operational, with a second to be completed this month.
Last month, Kansas City-based Geo Form International, the manufacturer of the equipment, trained several volunteers in Granby. Those individuals are now training additional volunteers so the committee can eventually keep the operation running full-time.
“We’re just continuing to move forward,” Williamson said.
He said the operation doesn’t move fast and isn’t pretty, but weather permitting will continue through the fall and pick up next spring as soon as fish spawning season ends.
Local officials believe the 750-acre lake can once again be a valuable recreational resource for the greater Fulton area. The water was deemed unsafe by state and county health officials nearly three decades ago, but officials believe removing built-up sediment will open the flow of freshwater springs that feed the lake and restore the water to safe levels for recreation.