Great Lakes town raises money online to save harbor

Apr 20, 2017

Leland Harbormaster Russell Dzuba is walking down a metal gangway to get a look at the harbor in this northern Michigan town.

Normally, there would be some activity this time of year – but the harbor is empty.

“We’re looking at water that’s about six inches deep right over there,” he says.

Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority

Each year, ports on the Great Lakes dredge tons of material to keep shipping lanes open. But disposing of the spoils is a big problem. The Port of Toledo has a creative approach: farming.

The Port of Toledo dredges more sediment than any port on the Great Lakes – up to a million cubic yards every year.  The idea of reusing sediment as soil for agriculture is new for the Great Lakes region and ideal for Lake Erie’s western basin.

Mike Desmond/wbfo news

The dredges are coming again to the Buffalo River, as a ten-year, $100 million project to clean the river winds down.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers / WBFO News

Squaw Island State Park on Buffalo’s West side could be the site of some natural recycling.

WBFO File Photo / WBFO News

Ongoing cleanup of the Buffalo River and the City Ship Canal will continue as the Environmental Protection Agency restored funding for the effort.

WBFO News file photo

Visitors to Canalside are getting a look at one of the oldest activities of a harbor, dredging.

For probably as long as sailors have gone down to the sea, harbors have had to be dredged, removing the mud or whatever which flowed into the harbor, making it harder for ships to sail in and out.

Locally, the harbor, the Buffalo River, and the City Ship Canal are dredged to 23 feet in depth for what's called the Federal Navigation Channel. The watery material is dug up and put in barges which take it to a disposal area near the old Bethlehem Steel plant.