The members of the Harford County Board of Estimates voted unanimously Thursday to approve a contract worth nearly half a million dollars to remove material dredged from local waterways and deposited at a site at a Joppatowne Park.

William McKean, a project manager with the Department of Public Works, presented his department's recommendation to award the $456,596.50 contract to Brightfields, Inc., of Wilmington, Del.

Brightfields was one of six bidders on the project.

McKean said funding for the project will come through a Maryland Department of Natural Resources Grant.

He said the contractor would remove and dispose of 31,000 cubic yards of material that had been dredged from the Gunpowder River, Taylor Creek and Foster Branch channels and then deposited at a site in Mariner Point Park designated for dredged material.

He said after the meeting that the contractor must find a site to deposit the material, which has been sitting at Mariner Point for years as it "dewaters over time."

He said the wet material typically sits in a hole or on an embankment and becomes soil as it dries out.

It is then removed to make room for more dredged material.

McKean said the Gunpowder, Taylor Creek and Foster Branch serve as recreational sites in Harford County, and they become filled with sediment that has eroded upstream.

"You have to dredge the channel or your boat will bottom out in the channel," he explained.