A dredging project in Lake Linganore estimated to cost about $18 million is scheduled to begin in March or April.
The Maryland Environmental Service (MES) announced earlier this month that a notice of intent for a $12.7 million contract was awarded to Mobile Dredging & Video Pipe Inc. to complete the project. That company has an office in Beltsville, Maryland, with its headquarters in Chester, Pennsylvania.
Kevin Demosky, director of the Frederick County Division of Utilities and Solid Waste Management, said the reason the overall estimates jumped from $15 million to $18 million was because further constraints, due to engineering and other factors, were put on the project between initial estimates and when the project was bid out.
“You don’t know the price of a project until you finally bid it,” Demosky said. “It’s unfair to criticize an estimate until you refine what those costs are going to be.”
The project was bid out in 2018, Demosky said.
The dredging project, provided that Mobile Dredging submits an appropriate performance bond and other requirements, would remove up to 350,000 cubic yards of sediment from Lake Linganore. The sediment has been reducing the lake’s storage capacity, according to Frederick County and city of Frederick officials.
Craig Renner, senior director of communications at MES, said the project should start in March or April, depending on how long it takes to stage the lake for dredging. Once that starts, the process could take up to two years, he said.
Most of the $12.7 million would be used toward removing the sediment and then de-watering it, Renner said. The de-watered sediment would be used for cover at the county landfill on Reichs Ford Road in Frederick.
Kevin Sellner, a local algae expert who holds a doctorate in oceanography from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, has worked locally and internationally with bacteria and algae. He said it will be important for local officials to monitor the water as dredging begins, because it could release more phosphorus into the water, causing a growth in algae.
That growth in algae, which could contain cyanobacteria, could then potentially release toxins into the water, making it undrinkable and unusable for recreational use.
Renner said local officials will collaborate before, during and after the project to regularly test water levels.
“MES will work in conjunction with Frederick County to perform water quality, nutrient, and algae sampling,” Renner said in an email. “There will be baseline and post dredging sampling, as well as weekly sampling during dredging.”
Sellner said that despite his concerns about the potential for algae, he was pleased to hear officials were looking at conducting weekly sampling during the project.
Mike Marschner, special projects manager in the county executive’s office, said discussions about possibly dredging Lake Linganore started in the early 2000s, between the Lake Linganore Association (LLA) and the county and city of Frederick officials.
About half of the roughly $18 million project cost will be paid by the city of Frederick, with Frederick County and LLA paying 25 percent each. Katie Barkdoll, the city of Frederick’s director of budget and purchasing, said in an email that the city has paid $378,436 to date for the project, and will contribute nearly $9.4 million total as part of its Capital Improvements Program for fiscal years 2017, 2018 and 2019. The city’s cost consisted of an initial study and overall dredging costs.
The county has budgeted the project in its own Capital Improvements Program for fiscal years 2019-24, and is scheduled to pay $4.5 million as its share of the project, according to budget documents. It will be paid out through the end of fiscal 2019.
Marscher said that outside of the $12.7 million contract, other costs include permitting, engineering and inspections, along with surveying done by MES, bringing the overall project cost to roughly $18 million.
Officials said the dredging of the 209-acre lake, constructed in 1972, will have two main purposes. First, the water supply will be maintained, which is significant because the city of Frederick receives almost half of its drinking water from the lake. Second, it will allow continued recreational use, such as boating, kayaking or other activities.
Sellner said that as the project starts, it will be important for all parties to monitor the lake for water quality.
“I encourage the city, county and homeowners association to monitor Lake Linganore just to make sure if there was a very large increase of cyanobacteria, they should be aware and begin some kind of toxin testing,” he said.
Marschner said he’s discussed the issue with Sellner, the Lake Linganore Association and others and that the project shouldn’t pose a “major risk” to the lake’s water quality.
He encouraged nearby residents to be patient, and thanked them for their cooperation since discussions began more than a decade ago.
“I’m just happy it’s happening, because it’s taken a while and it’s going to impact a lot of people,” Marschner said.