Dredging to begin at Millers Creek

Dredging will soon begin at Millers Creek. 

The Millers Creek Special Tax District Board unanimously voted to sign a contract with DredgIt, a fully integrated sediment management company from Houston, Texas, to remove sediment from Millers Creek, during a meeting Sept. 16 in the Compass Bank building in St. Nicholas. Board Chairman Michelle Wright said DredgIt could possibly begin “mobilizing” its equipment as early as the day after the contract was signed. 

The vote was not taken without some discussion. On Sept. 13, the Friday before the meeting, Wright was apprised of a new revelation concerning the high cost associated with the transportation and disposal of the waste materials by Independent Recycling, the company recommended to distribute the balance of the dirt – approximately 20,000-cubic-yards – that is not slated to be taken by Jacksonville’s Trail Ridge Landfill. 

Trail Ridge has already agreed to take on 10,000-cubic-yards of soil that is contaminated with benzo(a)pyrene for free, with the only cost to the special tax district being transportation. Right now, the district’s plan is to remove 30,000-cubic-yards of soil from the creek. 

Because DredgIt is a specialist in “dewatering” soil from dredging projects and owns special equipment for this purpose, Wright said she expects less soil than the 10,000-cubic-yards will be transported to Trail Ridge. It is the board’s plan to have Wright and her husband, Jonathan, join Joe Wagner, of Wood Environment and Infrastructure Solutions, in a meeting with Trail Ridge personnel to see if it is possible for the city landfill to dispose of the entire 30,000- cubic-yards at no cost. Jonathan Wright is not a board member but serves as board secretary.

 “All we then would have to pay is transportation, which is included in our bid,” said Wright. “Joe Wagner is setting up that meeting, and we will have Jonathan and myself go and make that pitch. If Trail Ridge tells us no, that all we can get is 10,000 yards, DredgIt has found us a land developer locally that will take all of our materials that do not have benzo(a)pyrene. So the 20,000 that’s not going to Trail Ridge, can go to the local developer with the contingency that DredgIt has to prepare the landfill for their use,” she said, adding the contingency cost will be an additional $22,000, which, when added to DredgIt’s bid, is less that the cost Independent Recycling was going to charge at $21 a cubic foot to distribute the soil.

“The worst-case scenario is our bid will jump up to $877,000, which is still less than our second lowest bid from Dames Point,” she said. A local company, Dames Point Workboats LLC had bid $877,487. DredgIt’s original bid was $855,000.

“In our contract it says, if we are able to get Trail Ridge to take the full 30,000, or there is another opportunity where we can get people to take our material for free, we can do it. It’s kind of like a change order as a disposal cost. At least we have something definite as a back-up,” Wright continued. In the contract, DredgIt had specified only 2,000-cubic-yards with benzo(a)pyrene going to Trail Ridge, 5,000-cubic-yards being distributed among Millers Creek homeowners to assist in building up their yards, and 22,000 being distributed by Independent Recycling, she added.

“So, what it comes down to is this, it’s only 15,000 cubic yards that we are looking to find a home for elsewhere,” she said. “I still think it is a great contract.”

More good news

During the meeting, the board also unanimously agreed to purchase a performance bond from Suretec Insurance Company at a cost of $20,000. The bond will ensure that DredgIt will perform the work to completion and pay any subcontractors it hires to work on the creek.  “I recommend we buy it,” said Tamara Grooms Baker, a board member. “I think it will give homeowners peace of mind.” 

The board also reveled in the news that the city’s Environmental Protection Board had approved a grant of $50,000 to assist in removing benzo(a)pyrene from the creek. The board had initially requested only $25,000, but when the Environmental Protection Board heard its case, it recommended doubling the amount, said Millers Creek Treasurer Scott Bates. “They asked us why we were not asking for more. They were confused by our methodology,” he said.

The $50,000 allocation still needs to be approved by the Jacksonville City Council, said Wright. “Basically, it is a rubber stamp because once they get a recommendation from the Environmental Protection Board, they will cut us a check,” she said.

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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