U.S. Water News Online
CEDAR LAKE, Ind. -- Restoration could begin soon on the
ecosystem of a northwestern Indiana lake that has been polluted for
decades with sewage and stormwater filled with fertilizer from farm
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is finishing a $600,000 study of
possible ways to restore the ecosystem of Cedar Lake, which also has
elevated levels of arsenic and lead.
Political and financial support is being lined up for the
restoration, but a few obstacles still need to be overcome before
work can begin.
Three of six preliminary alternatives involve dredging, which
local residents also advocate. Another option is to add chemical
treatment to the water, which binds some of the nutrients and forms a
crust at the bottom of the lake. The Corps of Engineers is also
considering setting up a temporary treatment plant to clean lakewater
and send it back.
"We take a look at everything and what is most feasible and the
best use of the government's money, and that's what we recommend,"
said Lynne Wheland, spokeswoman for the Army Corps.
U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., has proposed a bill providing
$4.4 million for the restoration. It has passed the House and is
awaiting action in the Senate, said Justin Kitsch, a spokesman for
The federal government provides 65 percent of the project cost,
which some have put at $12 million. The rest has to be found
The study was originally supposed to be finished in 2007, but it
was taking longer because the Corps is waiting for information from
the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the town of
Cedar Lake, which surrounds the lake about 15 miles south of Gary.
Part of the delay is that the federal agency is waiting for
information from IDEM on what restrictions it has to follow when
dealing with the lead and arsenic, Army Corps project manager Mike
Nguyen said. Another is the town has proposed its own sewage
treatment plant, which would discharge effluent back into the lake,
"Our concern was that (discharge) from the sewage treatment plant
will have a negative impact on the ecosystem," he said.
The Town Council also is considering whether to spend $1.7 million
on 114 acres of land as a disposal site for the dredged material.
Residents at newer nearby homes object. They worry the dredged
material will affect the safety of their drinking water.
"Cedar Lake has other land available, land within their own town
limits, why do they have to go out of their town limits and ruin the
neighborhood we live in?" said Craig Flanders in an open letter to
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