By Julie Wiessner
Who shot the Winslow dredge? That mystery continues to unfold.
On Monday, March 4, it was reported that the Winslow dredge boat was upside down and completely under water in Clear Creek.
On Wednesday, City Utilities and Environmental Services Director Alan Rosenbaum stated the dredge had been uprighted using TRI R Wrecking and police were out at the scene investigating. Rosenbaum speculated, “After seeing photos of one pontoon showing a large bullet hole, it could explain the reason why the dredge was on its side.”
City Attorney Dale Patton was contacted the day before and stated, “This is a very difficult situation…As of now, I do not know if the dredge is reclaimable, but I am hopeful.” The city has insurance coverage on the equipment.
The dredge and auxiliary equipment were purchased along with rescue boats in June 2008 with a $703,682 grant from Arizona State Parks to clean the silt build-up in Clear Creek.
The following month, the dredge was going to be used at McHood Park, the lake portion of Clear Creek, but city officials decided to delay the work until fall as an issue of safety, noted then Parks and Recreation Director Scott Lancaster, indicating that staff would need to be trained and that the public was using that portion of Clear Creek in the summer.
The area to be dredged, or deepened, included the channel east of the boat dock, where sediment had created several sandbars and made the water impassible for most boats. The area around the old boat ramp across from the recreation area also needed to be dredged, as a large amount of sediment had also built up in that area. Another area of concern was two huge logjams upstream that lowered water levels.
At the time, City Manager Jim Ferguson noted that arrangements had been made for the disposal of the sediment, but the permitting process was still being completed. He expected more than 300,000 cubic yards of sediment would be removed.
In July 2010 during a council meeting, Ferguson and Rosenbaum reported on problems with the dredge, which had been beached at Clear Creek. They noted that it should be afloat, but that an employee had yet to be trained in operating the dredge. A month later Ferguson reported that basins would need to be constructed to contain the sludge picked up by the dredge.
During a September 2010 council meeting, approval was given to spend $275,000 on the dredge basin project and in April 2011, a $602,935.76 contract for construction of dredge basins was awarded to McCauley Construction Company.
During June 2012, an internal loan of $358,854 was approved from the sanitation fund to the water fund for dredge basins.
According to Rosenbaum, “The dredge was put into the water in June of 2010 with a test run conducted depositing the silt into a natural basin nearby.”
He stated that two dredge basins were also constructed in late 2011 to early 2012, and are equipped and in use, with the proper filters to allow only clean water back into the lake.
“Since then the dredge has been in use on the average of three days a week with a properly trained employee, and almost had a channel completely cleared,” said Rosenbaum.
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By Julie Wiessner