The planning stages of a controversial dredging project that will help eliminate flooding near a Martinez pond will begin soon, officials say.
Columbia County recently hired an Augusta firm to examine conditions at Bowen Pond and determine the best method to dredge the pond and how to get the most out of the $1 million dedicated to the project.
Johnson, Laschober and Associates was awarded a $31,100 contract to conduct a topographical survey and take core samples to determine if the bed of the pond can support the weight of a dry dredging operation, said Columbia County waterworks director Billy Clayton.
If so, crews will drain the pond and bring in heavy equipment to remove excess sediment and vegetation.
If the pond bed cannot support heavy equipment, "wet dredging" must be done, which Clayton said is much more expensive.
"We wanted to get the most bang we could for the bucks that we got," Clayton said. If wet dredging is required, a machine with an auger would pump silt out onto the ground, where it would dry until hauled off, he said.
The pond, which has sedimentation problems, was donated to the county a few years ago as green space by Carl Sanders Jr., of the West Lake Development Co. Bowen Pond is part of the Reed Creek Basin, which flows into the Savannah River.
The sedimentation problem and vegetation issues have caused flooding for a number of years, residents have said.
Many residents of West Lake, Stevens Pointe and Crowne Pointe communities argued it is the responsibility of the county as owner to solve the pond's problems.
Some in Columbia County balked at the project since public access to the pond is prohibited. West Lake has access to use the pond for irrigation of its golf course.
Voters in November approved a $43 million Capital Improvements Bond proposal that included $1 million to dredge Bowen Pond.
Clayton said the dredging likely would take place in late fall through early winter to avoid the potentially severe weather of summer, late winter and early spring seasons.
Dredging is expected to take about 60 days, he said.
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