Lake Neatahwanta Project “On Track” Says Dredger

FULTON, NY — Except for a quick break Tuesday (Sept. 2) to meet the state senator, the Groh Dredging & Marine team has been hard at work pulling sediment from the bottom of Lake Neatahwanta since dredging began July 25 and grid one is expected to be finished any day.

IMG_7805The dredging company owner Tim Groh said he has kept everything going according to plan. “Everything is on track right now,” the dredge boss told Oswego County Today in an interview on Tuesday.

Working from a six-section grid of 300 feet x 300 feet squares, the goal is to remove the sediment from the lake bed in order to create greater depth and reveal natural springs in the lake bed.

Several scientific surveys conducted in the past two decades indicate that dredging is the next step to helping the little lake by the big lake recover from its current unhealthy state.

Lake Neatahwanta gridGroh said predicted depth levels according to the surveys have been right on target.

“I think there’s going to be about 10,000 cubic yards in grid one,” Groh said. “There’s a lot of sediment out there. I think the calculations are pretty snug.”

The dredge barge that can be seen with its paddles churning water just off Stevenson Beach was trucked to Fulton from Groh’s home base in Illinois and has an unseen 10 foot cutter head and a cutter box beneath the surface.

The two star wheels that can be seen pushing water at the rear of the dredger allow the operator to navigate the vessel.

IMG_7829Meanwhile, on the lake bed “the cutter box chews up the sediment and forms a slurry so the pump can suction it into the pipeline,” Groh said. “We’ve probably got about 1,800 feet of pipeline out.”

The pipeline runs from the dredger to the lake shore, then along the road behind the War Memorial.

Groh said the slurry is then pumped through the pipeline onto land with one more major step integral to the process.

IMG_7809“Once onshore there is an environmentally safe polymer injected into the slurry and that brings the smaller sediment particles together to form a larger particle that will fall out of solution,” Groh said. “It flocculates.”

Without binding the particles Groh said the fine sediment would block the openings in the geotextile, completely inhibiting dewatering – the release of water from containment.

Tim Groh, of Groh’s Dredging & Marine Construction

“If we didn’t have the polymer to bind the particles the slurry would just look like chocolate milk,” he added.

The slurry is then pumped alternately into two awaiting containment tubes that look like long black bladders lining the shoreline at the base of the street behind the War Memorial.

The water seeps out of the 200 foot tubes and drains back into the lake, leaving the sediment contained inside.

Every few minutes Groh employee John Ceglarek opened a valve on the manifold connected to the tubes to collect a sample of the slurry in a five-gallon bucket.

IMG_3838Groh swirled the liquid sample in the bucket, looking to see how the sediment was binding and how fast it settled to judge the degree of flocculation. “This is very organic material so you’re going to get good consolidation,” Groh said.

Ceglarek then radioed Groh’s assessment back to the crew at the other end of the pipeline so they could adjust the amount of polymer as needed.

IMG_7826Groh noted that the generic name for the sludge containment tubes is geotextile and for the Lake Neatahwanta project Groh is using geotextiles manufactured by Geo-synthetics Inc., of Waukesha, Wisc.

Groh said there is probably another week’s worth of dredging left in grid one, then another survey will be taken to determine sediment levels and next actions.

He added, “The only thing that stops the dredger is lightning … and ice.”

Meanwhile, efforts are under way through the Fulton Community Revitalization Corp. to raise more money to keep the dredge working in Fulton and Lake Neatahwanta as long as Groh can stay.


  1. if anyone would like to “donate” to the cause and have a chance to win one of my “Man Cave” art plaques, there is one for display on the deck of the Locke restaurant , the drawing will be held when tickets totaling $200 are sold.(the last I knew ticket chances totaled $100. After this drawing I will donate another for another drawing.

  2. I can’t wait for the lake to be clean…. The city will complain when people use it and the police won’t be happy with people in the park. I can’t wait for noisy jet skis traveling a million miles an hour. Hey, let’s clean the lake to dirty it with oil and gas… How about no gas motors. Hadn’t anyone noticed the lake was cleaning itself up… There were fish and wildlife… Has anyone been to the lake? Nature, not fast enough for out city that had a future….
    Wait and see – Fulton never changes for the better… Nature just needed humans to give it a break and it would recover…. My opinion another blunder… My second opinion , no one will care..

  3. Hey City Person,
    If nobody cares why bother wasting the time posting? If you’re gonna hate it so much why don’t you just move?

  4. well,”city person”,i suspect that when the dredging is done,in my opinion,you will still be complaining. some people are destined to complain no matter how positive the result. this city should band around the people who are working hard to improve things. there is light at the end of every tunnel!!

  5. I am not complaining about the lake. I use it. I see how it has changed for the best when we just leave it to heal itself. People created the problems but the earth has an incredible capacity to work wonders and heal itself, just not fast enough for out lifetime. I have seen the changes in the wildlife, it’s getting better, on its own.
    I would like to see more people enjoy the lake. I think of they wanted to they would be there now, like me… for years.
    How about when the lake is cleaned up with all the tax dollars … when it is so beautiful ….
    We vote to BAN ALL GAS and OIL, motors on the lake so we may keep it clean? No gas or oil at all. No man made pollution that would be a good start for a positive future. I have ideas for better, not complaints in this case.

  6. City Person doesn’t know what their talking about,Its not the gas and oil from boats thats making the green slime alge that covers the surface of the lake. If anything it may help stop the growth of the slime. Its my understanding the slime is caused by the farm runoff that circles the lake. I had my boat over to North Bay once this year and the people that work there told me this year is the worst year EVER for the green slime, so much for the lake to clean itself. The dreging will open the springs that keep the water flowing and then can start to clean itself up.

  7. City Person,

    In all your infinite wisdom about hydraulic dredging, please enlighten us how nature is going to remove 10,000 cubic yard of mud from the floor of the lake? Do you even realize how much material that is? That would be over 500 dump trucks of material. 500! Nature never promised to keep this lake a lake. Without human intervention, this lake, like a lot of lakes, would continue to fill with natural erosion and sediment. It would quietly become a shallow marsh and no longer a lake. It would become a wetlands type area and no longer support any type of human enjoyment. So if you want to continue enjoying this lake for years to come, like you have for years in the past, sit down and let the professionals hired by us, do their job. You don’t know what you are talking about. Gas or motor powered boats are not contributing to sediment buildup and erosion infiltration. That is a natural occurrence. And when that happens, algae and natural water cover plant life begins to grow on the surface of the water. This problem grows quickly as deep, moving waters don’t clear the algae from the surface. The water needs to be ‘re-deepened’ and moving again to prevent this buildup. Motorized watercraft contain such a finite about of oil and fuel that their unintentional contribution of pollution would be comparable to a single drop of food coloring in 10 olympic sized pools. Get real, there is no negligible impact.

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