Lake Elkhorn

Dredging has been completed at Lake Elkhorn, the last of Columbia┬┐s three man-made lakes to have sediment removed over the past few years, according to Dennis Mattey, director of construction for Columbia Association (CA). (Nate Pesce / February 11, 2013)

The Columbia Association Board of Directors approved a lake management plan Thursday, pledging approximately $9.5 million in funding for Columbia's lakes and ponds over the next 20 years.

The plan is viewed as a alternative to CA's recent dredging efforts, which the organization spent $12 million on over a five-year period ending last year.

Dredging is done to maintain the environmental and aesthetic value of the lakes. Sediment builds up at the lake's bottom, creating conditions that accelerate the growth of aquatic vegetation that can have a detrimental effect. 

Instead of neglecting the lakes and ponds for periods of time and dredging the entire body of water all at once, the lake management plan proposes CA provide routine on-going maintenance to the bodies of water, which staff estimates will save CA between $2 and $3 million.


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"We know where the silt deposits are so if we catch them early, like every four, five or six years, then the dredging costs are much less," said Andy Stack, chair of the CA Board. 

As part of the on-going maintenance, CA needs an area to dump the excess silt and sediment dredged from the lakes. 

"Now that we have approved the plan what staff needs to do is go out and see if we own any land where we can put this or if we need to buy some land somewhere," said Stack.

According to the plan, CA is considering a dumping site in Anne Arundel County as an alternative.