Archive for Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Businesses hope to increase dredging along Kansas River; environmentalists warn that process is destructive

November 15, 2011


Related document

Dredging proposal public notice ( .PDF )

Several area companies hope to increase the amount of sand and gravel dredged from the Kansas River by 1 million tons per year.

But before that happens, the public has the opportunity to weigh in.

Kaw dredging proposal

• Currently, five companies are authorized to dredge 2.2 million tons annually from 10 locations on the river. That permit expires at the end of 2012.

• Under the new proposal, which would run for five years, the same companies are asking for dredging authorization for 13 sites and 3.2 million tons annually.

• The proposed sites span an 80-mile stretch of the river, from Shawnee County to Wyandotte County, including Douglas County.

• The companies seeking permits are Kaw Valley Companies, Holliday Sand & Gravel, Penny’s Aggregates, Master’s Dredging, and Meier’s Ready Mix.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency responsible for issuing dredging permits, is accepting public comment until Dec. 9 regarding proposals by five companies for new permits on 13 locations — including several in or near Lawrence — along an 80-mile stretch of the Kansas River, from Shawnee County to Wyandotte County.

The current dredging permit, which expires at the end of 2012, authorizes five companies to dredge 2.2 million tons annually from 10 sites. The new proposals, by the same five companies, seek to increase the tonnage dredged to 3.2 million. If a new permit is issued, it will run from 2013 to the end of 2017.

Environmental advocates, including Friends of the Kaw, say the increase is detrimental to the water supply and natural habitats in the area.

“River dredging is very destructive, and the cumulative effects are not in the public interest,” said Laura Calwell, representative for Friends of the Kaw, a local environmental advocacy group. “Dredging stirs up sediments and industrial pollutants that threaten our drinking water.”

Calwell said her group has advocated for a decrease and eventual stop to dredging on the river, or, at the very least, no increase to the current tonnage limits.

Kale Horton, with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City Regulatory Office, said the decision process for the permits will take place over the next year, and could include adjustments to the tonnage limits requested by the companies.

“It’s a back and forth,” said Horton, who encouraged citizens to contact his office to comment.

Horton can be contacted by email at, or by phone at 816-389-3656.


JayhawkFan1985 6 years, 1 month ago

How much does a permit cost the businesses? And how much do they sell this publicly owned resource for? Perhaps a public private partnership is in order whereby these businesses could be issued a permit in exchange for them restoring wetlands along the river.

ksengineer 6 years, 1 month ago

The state collects a $0.15 per ton royalty for sand removed from the river in addition to the applicable sales tax when it is sold. I don't believe the corps charges a fee for the permit, but they can require extensive measures to protect the waterway. This could include mitigation or payment of "damages."

The following is a little dated, but an interesting (if you like this sort of thing) study of the KS River Corridor.

JayhawkFan1985 6 years, 1 month ago

15 cents per ton? I paid a lot more than that when I bought some for my yard. When was that fee set...1910???

JayhawkFan1985 6 years, 1 month ago

A fair deal might be for the dredging companies to extract 2 tons of sand and then give 1 ton free to KDOT for road maintenance. I'd like to know how much they sell sand back to the state for...

JayhawkFan1985 6 years, 1 month ago

A fair deal might be for the dredging companies to extract 2 tons of sand and then give 1 ton free to KDOT for road maintenance. I'd like to know how much they sell sand back to the state for...

parrothead8 6 years, 1 month ago

Who deposited the sand in the middle of the river?

parrothead8 6 years ago

That's what I thought. And yet it's up to us to make it "normal," whatever that means?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 1 month ago

"It would seem to me that dredging that sand would allow the river to flow more normally,"

Define "normal."

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 1 month ago

Dredging the main channel does not lead to a "normal" flow, even if the desired result is preferable to you. Normal flow for the Kaw is a meandering path that frequently (on a fairly short geologic scale) changes channels.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

"So there is no down side to the river gobbling up trees and ground and farm land unnecessarily?"

From the standpoint of the humans who like those trees and farmland, there's certainly a downside. But dredging the Kaw to protect them isn't what I'd call "normal."

And the dredging proposed here isn't for the purpose controlling the channel of the river. It's to remove sand for industrial purposes, and the environmental downside needs to be taken into account when determining how much mining should be allowed.

"BTW - you and I will never see eye to eye, but for the most part you are civil, and I appreciate that."

Thanks-- I try to be. I appreciate your doing the same.

Christina Ruiz 6 years, 1 month ago

We very often see bank erosion happen DUE to dredging. A great example is east of Lawrence and just upstream from where dredging routinely happens. The river pulls sand and river bank, etc down from the upstream area in order to fill in the area that was removed just downstream. Sandbars are a natural part of our prairie river.

heidim28 6 years ago

Cheeseburger - The Kansas River, like most prairie river systems, is naturally sandy. The sandbars you are seeing are a sign of a healthy river.

Dredging from the river causes channel incision, a process in which the bed level is lowered and erosion is increased at the toe of the bank, INCREASING bank erosion and causing mass bank failure. Many farmers have lost valuable agricultural land because of channel incision. At one site we monitor, the landowner is losing a foot of land a year.

You might also be interested to know that this bed scour caused by dredging also threatens bridge pylons, and roads and railroads built close to the channel. The cost of preventing that infrastructure from being undermined, or of repairing it once it is damaged is paid for by YOU and ME - the taxpayers.

Before you decide whose view is "skewed," I would urge you to do a little research on river channel dynamics.

Blessed4x 6 years, 1 month ago

I think for every two tons removed from the river, one ton should be donated to the Friends of the Kaw for their use to do with as they see fit. They can just deposit the sand/gravel in the driveways of the FotK officers. That way the river gets a little maintenance, the dredging companies get some sand and the FotK members have a surplus of material to do with as they wish. Everyone is happy. long as the FotK officers have REALLY long driveways and a use for a half a million tons of sand/gravel.

Joe Blackford II 6 years, 1 month ago

Send it back upstream . . . . our Manhattan pols will need to have something to bury their heads in when the NBAF's germs escape . . . .

You Larryvillians do know the excess NBAF stormwater runoff will be pumped up hill to the North; East to the Big Blue & downstream to you, don't you? This will be done safely, according to:

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