Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Wares Creek Project Stalled

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Wares Creek Project Stalled

Article excerpt

LANDFILL: An estimate of the amount of sludge to be dumped proves faulty

MANATEE COUNTY

The region's largest flood-control and waterway dredging project - - the $52 million Wares Creek clean-up in Bradenton -- has stalled due to an overabundance of the very material the project will remove: sludge.

The Wares Creek dredging project being done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began this spring and seeks to clean out sludge and muck that has stalled the flow of the Manatee River tributary that runs through much of central Bradenton.

But progress has slowed since it became clear this week that too much sludge and muck has been taken from the creek and sent to the landfill, and could drive up the cost of the $51.7 million project.

Sia Mollanazar, an engineer with the Manatee County Public Works Department, said the Army Corps will ask the county next month to consider cutting landfill fees to dispose of more "unsuitable" material. The hope is that the reduced fees will keep the project cost under control and on schedule without harming operations at the landfill.

As the project progresses, an equipment has been set up near the mouth of the creek just south of Manatee Avenue in downtown Bradenton.

For 25 years, Wares Creek has become overrun by muck because it also serves as an outlet for the Cedar-Hammock Drainage Canal. Stormwater, soil and garbage float into the creek from as far away as DeSoto Square Mall.

Major sections of the creek are now overcome with dirty runoff, and thickets of mangroves and nuisance plants grew in mounds that obstructed the creek's natural flow.

Residents could not see across the small channel, which became an eyesore and impassable for people in canoes or kayaks.

Mollanazar said the original plan was to send 53,650 tons of material to the landfill, of which 47,835 tons would be suitable; that is, good, clean dirt that would be used as daily cover at the landfill, he said. The regular tipping fee of $36 per ton was waived, for a total credit of $1,380,000 for the Army Corps.

The unsuitable material, basically wet sludge with clay and organic particles that cannot be used for anything, is arriving at the landfill where it is treated and covered.

The early estimate was that 5,655 tons of unsuitable material would arrive at the landfill and be tipped at a cost of $24 per ton, for a total cost of $135,720, a discount of $290,000. …

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