CLEVELAND — Ohio’s environmental regulators and a federal agency that maintains Lake Erie’s shipping channels have started talking about new ways to get rid of all the sediment that is dredged out of the Cuyahoga River.
Officials from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers met last week to hash out ideas about the dredging.
The two agencies disagree about whether sediment from the river should be dumped in Lake Erie.
Environmental groups, state regulators and political leaders have been trying to stop the dumping since the 1980s. But the Army Corps has resisted, saying it’s safe and much cheaper to put it into the lake.
Early this year, the Army Corps was pushing to start taking dredged sediment from the Cuyahoga River and Cleveland harbor and disposing of it offshore. But the Ohio EPA objected and the Army Corps backed off the idea, saying it would continue to put the sediment in a contained disposal facility.
Officials from the two agencies along with those from the Port of Cleveland met of Friday Republican Rep. Bob Gibbs of Ohio to discuss how to solve the issue.
Gibbs, chairman of the House Transportation Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, told The Plain Dealer that the participants came up with some potential solutions that would protect jobs and the water quality in Lake Erie.
“I think we are making progress,” he said. “Sometimes it is good to get everyone together, face to face.”
Ohio EPA officials said they would be willing to pay for some of the extra costs of continuing to put sediment in the disposal facility, Gibbs said. The goal is to come up with a plan to handle the dredged material for the next 20 years, he said.
“We are looking for both a short-term solution for 2015 and a long-term solution that would keep the channel open and prevent the dredge material from going into the open lake,” said Heidi Griesmer, a spokeswoman with the Ohio EPA.