Lake Quonnipaug dredging estimated at $3.3M

Published: Tuesday, April 21, 2009
By Rachael Scarborough King Register Staff

GUILFORD — Dredging the southern portion of Lake Quonnipaug and removing plants that are choking the bottom would cost more than $3 million, according to the results of a recent study.

Town Engineer James Portley told the Board of Selectmen Monday that there does not appear to be a market for selling the dredged material, which could have offset some of the cost.

Officials had hoped that the lake would provide gravel, but Portley said the material on the lake bottom is not of high enough quality to be sold.

The narrow southern 2,000 feet of the lake is getting clogged with decaying plants, Portley said. Because the lake is not very deep at that spot, plants can grow on the bottom.

The 111-acre Lake Quonnipaug is a popular recreation site in north Guilford. It has a town beach and state boat launch.

The “dry dredging” project would require building a dam and draining part of the lake. The study, done by Branford engineer Donald Ballou, put the cost at $3.3 million, Portley said.

“It would be a tremendous project to enhance the recreational use of Lake Quonnipaug, but it would be a costly project,” Portley said.

Selectmen said Monday that the project will likely be shelved, given the economy, unless the town can get funds.

“It’s a very thorough report,” First Selectman Carl Balestracci said. “It’s going to take a real plan, and hopefully some state grants if we’re ever going to do this.”

Selectman Joseph Mazza added: “And in the meantime, unfortunately, the lake keeps filling in.”

Balestracci said the town will schedule a meeting to discuss the results of the study with residents.

Portley said that the southern part of the lake may become unusable for water recreation because of the plant growth.

“At some point, the vegetation takes over and you can’t use the last 2,000 feet (of the lake),” he said.

The study has been in the works for more than two years and was financed by a $75,000 state grant after a local group, Friends of Lake Quonnipaug, asked Guilford’s state legislators for help studying the problem.

Portley said that the study included three components: the hydrology of the southern end of the lake, cost and feasibility, and a survey of the natural resources.

The project could become more economically viable in the future, officials said.

“In time, if the market ever changed (or) if there’s something that needs a large volume of (fill) material, then this could come off the shelf,” Portley said.

The town has not scheduled the public meeting on the topic, but selectmen said it will most likely be held in north Guilford.

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