Dredging Laguna Lake before the rains makes sense
October 14, 2014
OPINION By JIM FOLEY
An open letter to the San Luis Obispo City Council:
I have been a resident of San Luis Obispo for 35 years, 18 spent living on Laguna Lake. For well over a decade, I and many other people have been urging the city to dredge Laguna Lake to improve the water quality. The last 40 years of non-management have led to a lake so shallow that water turbidity and temperature have led to algae blooms, fish die-offs, and the general decline in most recreational uses of the lake.
Right now, with the lake near empty, we have a tremendous opportunity to deepen the lake at a fraction of the cost (not the $8 million to $10 million estimated in the plan). I do understand that the permits take time; permits should have been started back in July. If this action had been taken when the plan was approved three months ago we would be seeing thousands of cubic yards of silt being removed from the lake at this very moment.
It is my understanding that the City of Atascadero had help expediting the permit process to dredge Atascadero Lake in order to take advantage of the drought conditions. SLO City Natural Resource Manager Bob Hill has said that the lake bottom would make the working conditions very challenging. There are methods to combat that- just ask the heavy equipment operators currently removing silt from Atascadero Lake.
I have sent you my rough draft of a proposal for dredging Laguna Lake. Admittedly, it is written without any dredging or construction experience and is put forth only as an example. I have spent several weeks researching what other cities all over the country have done to deal with dredging and silt removal. It is written as if I owned the lake and had to hire local equipment operators to do the job.
It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out it is cheaper to empty the silt out of the lake when it is dry then when it is full of water. The proposal was written before the numbers were released for the dredging of Atascadero Lake and I am relieved to find that the costs are not that far apart. For the initial 30,000 cubic yards that would remain on site, my proposal estimated $8.33/cubic yard. This would be the cheapest portion since we wouldn’t need to pay to dispose of the fill dirt. I suspect that the remaining 120,000 cu yards could be removed at the price Atascadero is paying for their final phase of dredging which is $14.35/ cubic yard, an increase of $5.00/cubic yard to pay for disposal.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have. My main purpose in writing this proposal is to urge the City to take advantage of the drought conditions and save an enormous amount of money in dredging the lake.