TOLEDO, Ohio, August 15, 2016 – The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority (Port Authority), Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA), Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), and the City of Toledo held a ribbon cutting ceremony today to mark the grand opening of the new Great Lakes Dredged Material Center for Innovation on Summit Street in north Toledo. The project represents a significant milestone in the reuse of material that would otherwise be deposited in Lake Erie, and was brought to fruition through an Ohio Healthy Lake Erie Fund grant and through cooperative partnerships between the Ohio EPA, ODNR, Port Authority, City of Toledo, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“It is important that we begin to think differently about the 800,000 to one million cubic yards of material dredged annually from the shipping channel at the Port of Toledo,” said Paul Toth, president & CEO of the Port Authority. “The Center for Innovation will help us to better understand how to derive value from the material so it can be used to enhance the region in a sustainable manner.”

The new Center for Innovation will advance efforts necessary to plan for the full-scale implementation of projects utilizing dredged material for agricultural use and blended soil product development purposes. The Center for Innovation consists of four cells to be filled with dredged material and used for agricultural field testing. The site also includes an edge-of-field treatment system research area, a blended soil production area, a barge mooring area, and will soon have a new access road and other infrastructure to support beneficial use projects.

“This pilot project is an example of the type of public-private partnership that will help us eliminate the open lake disposal of dredged material by 2020,” said Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler. “In May, we hosted a dredged materials summit with policy makers, business experts, and others to explore ways Ohio can repurpose material dredged from Lake Erie’s harbors. Over the next four years, Ohio will be making a concerted effort to look for and develop beneficial use projects like this one for dredged material and sediment.”

“This project is another effort to better manage source water challenges of Lake Erie in a more comprehensive manner,” said City of Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson. 

Ohio Senator Randy Gardner’s focus on water quality in Lake Erie, and his leadership in obtaining $10 million through the State of Ohio’s Healthy Lake Initiative, provided resources to pursue beneficial use projects using dredged material such as the Center for Innovation. The Port Authority received a $2.5 million Ohio Healthy Lake Erie Fund grant to design and construct the Great Lakes Dredged Material Center for Innovation. Hull & Associates, Inc., an environmental consulting, engineering and project development firm founded in Toledo in 1980, was hired by the Port Authority to lead design and complete construction oversight activities at the property. Hull’s team includes Moffat & Nichol, DGL Consulting Engineers, TetraTech, University of Toledo, and Garcia Surveyors. Toledo-based Geo. Gradel Co. was the construction contractor.

The Center for Innovation will move beneficial use options forward that were recommended in the Toledo Harbor Sediment Management & Use Plan, funded through a $250,000 grant from the U.S. EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and Ohio Lake Erie Commission to the Port Authority. Click here to view more information on this project.

Posted by Stacy Weber on Tuesday, August 16, 2016.