Dredging Lake Worth FAQ's (Texas)

There are a lot of myths and rumors floating around (no pun intended) about the current effort to dredge Lake Worth. To share what is really happening on the lake effort, we have posted these FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions). (This page is under construction. As more and better information becomes available, it will be updated. If you have questions, please list them below for inclusion.)

It is important to note that the current dredging project is simply a "first step" in turning the lake area into a world-class urban park. Ongoing participation and conversations from lake residents will be important as the projects move forward.

Is the dredging really going to happen?
All signals and conversations from the city leaders seem to indicate that the dredging will happen. Since the money is available (i.e. from the Barnett Shale windfall revenue) there seems to be little opposition in going forward.

How much will the dredging cost?
Approximately $30 million is the estimate for the dredging. A little more than 3 million cubic yards will be removed at a cost slightly less than $10 per yard.

How deep will the lake be dredged?
The plan is to make the shallow ("boatable") areas 6 feet deep when the lake is at its lowest (or 10 feet deep when the lake is at its normal level). The North Texas Municipal Water District is contractually obligated to keep the lake 1 foot over the water inlet of the Fort Worth Water Department or at 590 feet above sea level. No matter how low the water levels in the lakes above us get, Lake Worth cannot go below this level. (That's why lakes like Eagle Mountain ran so low during the drought. The lakes above us were drained to keep Lake Worth at the contractual level.) The dredged spots in the lake will be six feet from this low contractual level (i.e. the bottom of the dredged areas will be at 584 feet above sea level). In other words, when the lake is at its lowest possible level, the dredged spots should be at least six feet deep. At the normal "conservation level" (when the water is near the top of the dam at 594), the dredged spots will be ten feet deep.

What about fixing the flood gates on the dam?
According to the Fort Worth Water Department, there are no real "flood gates." There is merely a gate which can be opened if the lake were to be completely drained.

Will my property taxes go up?
When have taxes not gone up? Right now, everyone's property taxes in Fort Worth (including those who don't live on the lake) are going up. However, the tax increases in Texas are limited to 12% per year. To minimize taxes, residents are advised to file for a homestead exemption. Likewise, those turning 65 are advised to file for the age 65 tax exemption as well. From a financial point of view, if your taxes are going to go up anyway, wouldn't you like your property value to go up faster?

Won't the lake become crowded if we dredge it?
Undoubtedly, more people will use the lake once it is dredged and safer. However, even the most crowded lakes in Texas do most of their business on weekends and holidays. The rest of the time, the lakes belongs to the residents.

When will the dredging start?
The dredging will probably start in 2011.

Why will the dredging take so long to start?
The Corps of Engineers has jurisdiction on all lakes and rivers in the United States. Any significant changes (i.e. dredging) must first meet their approval. This approval (and the approvals from the State of Texas) will probably take three years to get.

How long will the dredging take once it is under way?
The dredging is estimated to take two years to complete.

What parts of the lake will be dredged?
Many shallow areas have been identified. However, a thorough survey of the lake bottom will be conducted before the dredging begins. It is likely that areas not identified in the map will see dredging as well. Click here to see a map.

Where will all the mud go?
The final disposition of the mud has not been determined. Choices include putting the mud on the shoreline, adjacent public property, or (most probably) nearby quarries.

What are the plans to keep the lake adequately deep (i.e. from silting in again)?
Special "over dredging areas" have been selected. At the mouths of creeks pouring into the lake, deep spots will be excavated beyond the six foot depth. These deep pockets will provide a place for new sediment to accumulate. Every ten or fifteen years, the accumulated mud will be removed. The current proposals provide "endowment funds" for cleaning the "over dredge areas."

Will the dredging stir up PCBs and other pollutants?
The pollutants most discussed (i.e. PCB's) are found in the sediments adjacent to the military base. Dredging in these areas has been avoided by the dredging plan. An anticipated cleanup by the military will address those areas.

How can I learn more about the dredging?
Click here.

How can I stay informed as the dredging moves forward?
Click here.

Is the dredging equipment loud?
Obviously, the lake's surface carries sound quite well and quite far. Given that we all must live (and sleep) on the lake during the dredging makes the noise issue very important. The specifics of how the noise levels will be minimized have not been thoroughly discussed at this time but remain an important issue.

Will there by specific hours of dredging or is it continuous?
For cost minimization, the current plan is to run the equipment continuously 24 hours per day.

Will undredged shallow areas be marked?
They need to be.

Are they removing the submerged tree trunks they find while dredging?
A budget for removing tree trunks is included in the current proposal.

Is trash removal part of the dredging project?
Trash at the dredged areas will be removed. The need for removing trash from other areas is a good point and should be discussed.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

What is so funny about this is that, in the late 70's or early 80's, there was a fertilizer company that offered to dredge Lake Worth. The cost of the project would have cost the city of Fort Worth exactly no money...only the silt and other material recovered from the lake. The city declined using the excuse that such a project would foul the drinking water of Fort Worth for a time...even though the majority of Fort Worth's water did not come from Lake Worth any longer. A dredging at that time might have helped save the lake from turning into the filthy mudhole that it is now...one where you cannot even eat any of the fish you may catch there.

Yep...something they could have had for free...now going to cost $30 million.

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