GOSHEN — An organization that plans to start removing sediment from Goshen Dam Pond in 2015 has raised more than a third of what it needs for the project.
The Elkhart River Restoration Association has secured $675,000 for a major dredging project at the pond that would get rid of overgrown vegetation and sediment that has accumulated through runoff and erosion.
The pond was created in 1856 when the dam was installed, but over the past 158 years, invasive plants have formed islands on the water’s surface, making it difficult for boaters and kayakers to navigate the pond. Habitats for fish and wildlife have been degraded, and the average depth of the water has decreased to 3 feet.
The $2 million project to dredge 34 acres of the pond to an average depth of 6 feet would help alleviate these problems, according to association board member Bill Rieth.
The group, also known as the ERRA, has received $325,000 from the Elkhart County Stormwater Management Board and, most recently, $250,000 from the Goshen Board of Public Works and Safety, which handles the city’s stormwater funds.
The dredging project qualifies for up to $300,000 from Indiana’s Lake and River Enhancement program that aims to protect aquatic habitats. The project has secured $100,000 from the program so far.
“Once the group gets to the halfway mark of $1 million, we can start the project by getting bids for the work in place,” Rieth said.
The ERRA has received letters of support from the Goshen Parks and Recreation Department, the St. Joseph River Basin Commission and the Elkhart County Parks Department. Rieth and other ERRA members are making presentations to public and private entities to drum up more support and donations.
“We appreciate the county commissioners, the stormwater board and a number of other groups that have given support,” Rieth said. “This is a positive environmental project that will enhance the pond.”
Dredging must start in 2015 before the ERRA’s permit issued by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources expires. Until then, Rieth said the group plans to continue working in the upper reaches of the Elkhart River to prevent more sediment from entering the pond.
Follow Elkhart Truth reporter Angelle Barbazon on Twitter at @tweetangelle.