November 15, 2011 - 02:17pm
An organization dedicated to preservation of the Kansas River expressed opposition Tuesday to proposed expansion of dredging operations in Shawnee County and three other counties along the waterway.
Five companies are applying for sand and gravel permits covering 13 dredging sites in Shawnee, Douglas, Wyandotte and Johnson counties under jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is seeking public comment until Dec. 9.
"River dredging is very destructive and the cumulative effects are not in the public interest," said Laura Calwell, river keeper for Friends of the Kaw.
She said dredging stirred sediments and industrial pollutants that degraded the water supply used by more than 600,000 Kansans. In addition, she said, dredging amplified potential of erosion.
Companies submitting the permit proposals are Master's Dredging, Penny's, Meier's Ready Mix, Holliday Sand and Gravel, and Kaw Valley. All but Penny's seeks either expansion of the tonnage removed or range of the dredging rigs.
The Corps of Engineers allows the five companies to extract 2.2 million tons of material from the river. Proposals before the federal agency would allow removal of 3.2 million tons.
Calwell said companies drawing sand from the river should shift to pit mining rather than river dredging.
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