If you've noticed some activity under the east-side of the Blatnik Bridge this week, it's for a reason.  The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) started a planned dredging project at Howards Bay that's expected to last the summer and into early fall.

According to details released by the EPA, the work is tied to the St. Louis River Area of Concern - which was created as part of the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.  This specific project will see crews dredging contaminated sediment at Howards Bay.  "Sediment in Howards Bay is polluted with contaminants typically associated with fossil fuels such as coal, gasoline, and oil".  The work is one part routine navigation dredging combined with environmental restoration to remove the contamination.

The EPA dredging area is sizable in nature - extending from "Hughitt Slip to the head of Howards Bay near 5th and Main Street".  All told, the crew - with a mechanical dredge implement - will work to remove approximately 75,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment, which will eventually be disposed of at the Wisconsin Point Landfill.  At the landfill, a protective barrier layer of soil will cover the contaminated sediment.

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All told, the voluntary dredging work at Howards Bay will cost $12.1 million, with funds coming from the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative along with its non-federal partners - Fraser Shipyards Inc., Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the City of Superior.  The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was formed in 2010 as a "non-regulatory program to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world".

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