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Dredging to clear Champlain Canal

26 May 2006

Source: Leigh Hornbeck/N.Y.: Times Union Publication

Work between Stillwater and Schaghticoke keeps channel open for boats

S1170 Dragon DredgeCHAGHTICOKE -- That giant sucking sound you hear is coming from the Champlain Canal. This week, the Canal Corp. began dredging the waterway south of Lock 4 to the end of Green Island, between Schaghticoke and Stillwater.

A crew aboard a dredge (a Series 1170 "Dragon®" built by Ellicott® Dredges of Baltimore in the 1980's) uses a hydraulic process not unlike a household vacuum cleaner to suck sediment from the floor of the canal and then dump it on the south end of Newland Island. The workers will remove 110,000 cubic yards of mud, equivalent to a football field piled more than 60 feet high. The job is expected to take two months and will not impact boat traffic.

"Dredging is vital to the continued sustainability of the canal system," said Canal Corp. Director Carmella Mantello. "A navigable, viable waterway is essential if we are to maximize the potential of the canal as a transportation, recreation and economic resource."

The Canal Corp. periodically dredges stretches of the canal to keep it at a 12- to 14-foot depth. In this particular location, the Hoosic River dumps sediment and gravel into the bottom of the canal, making it increasingly difficult for boats to navigate the channel. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a permit for the work and the state Department of Environmental Conservation reviews tests of the material.

1170 Dragon Dredger"The sediment was sampled for contaminants," said Canal Corp. spokeswoman Jennifer Meicht.

The material will be tested again when it's dry. If the DEC gives a go-ahead, the corporation will use it for fill.

In other dredging projects the Canal Corp. has sold fill to municipalities and private users. But transporting the dirt is difficult in this case because there is only a narrow causeway on and off Newland Island, which the Canal Corp. shares with a private landowner, according to Peter Weisbecker, a civil engineer with the corporation.

The canal channel is part of the Hudson River between Schaghticoke and Stillwater; the channel runs between Green Island and Newland Island and the river shore in Schaghticoke.

"It's a step in the right direction," Stillwater Supervisor Greg Connors said.

"But there is still millions of cubic yards of sediment that need to be removed from the canal between the federal dam in Troy and Hudson Falls."

Opening up the canal improves the economies of the communities along the canal, Connors said.

Reprinted from N.Y.: Times Union Publication

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