BRADENTON -- Manatee County may have cleared yet another hurdle for the dredging of Wares Creek: It has agreed to decrease landfill fees by as much as $275,000 for dredge materials that can’t be used as a dirt covering for garbage.
The agreement allows the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to sign a contract on Friday to get the dredging project under way this summer.
County Administrator Ed Hunzeker negotiated a maximum amount the county would take and also got assurances that the material would be fully dried before it is trucked to the landfill.
Under the proposed agreement, the county will accept up to 5,655 tons of dredge material at a rate of $24 per ton, rather than the typical $61 per ton. If county commissioners approve the agreement today, the Corps will sign the contract Friday.
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The item is on the county’s consent agenda and is likely to be approved.
“It is a non-issue in my opinion,” County Commissioner Joe McClash said Monday.
Hunzeker told commissioners on Monday that he wanted to make sure this was a one-time exception and didn’t want to open the county up to any further requests from the contractor or the Corps for a break on the fee schedule.
“I am comfortable that we have a maximum exposure of $275,000,” Hunzeker told commissioners. He added that the county will “explore opportunities to make this whole.”
The county estimates that at least 80 percent of the dredge material will be usable as cover for garbage, which prevents the county from having to buy dirt elsewhere.
“This will help us,” Hunzeker said.
Up to another 20 percent will be made up of substances that will not allow it to be used as cover.
When the Corps tested the creek bottom several years ago, it estimated that about 5 percent of the material could not be used as cover in the landfill. The Corps increased that amount to a maximum of 20 percent because of the amount of time that has passed since the creek bottom was tested.
Hunzeker said he expects the amount will be somewhere between 5 percent and 20 percent, but he wanted to make sure all of it was handled appropriately, including making sure it was thoroughly dried before being transported.
“I didn’t want any wet smelly materials falling on the street,” as it was being transported, Hunzeker said.
Bradenton Vice Mayor Patrick Roff, a long-time proponent for the project, said Monday that he is relieved the item is on the county’s consent agenda for today.
“I was told from the start that it was going to happen this way,” he said. “But I have learned not to take things for granted. I have been feeling things out and I have heard no one wants to step in the way of a start date. I am grateful to the county for seeing it that way.”
Roff said that even though this is now officially a federal project, he continues to monitor it monthly to make sure things are on track.
“The luxury I had when I came into office was this was my prime objective,” he said.
Now that it looks like the final piece is in place, Roff said he expects to see subcontractors out to prepare the property as soon as this month.
“The subcontractors know what they will be doing,” Roff said. “They will be down here as soon as they get the word.”
While site preparation may begin this month, Emilio Gonzalez, an engineer with the Corps, said actual dredging is not likely to begin until August.