Environmental impact, trail closures examined

DREDGING FEASIBILITY STUDY

By Nancy Black

This gorgeous photograph was taken at the end of December by White Rock Lake Weekly reader Artoro Calderon. Congratulations, Arturo! You just won a $25 gift card to a favorite local restaurant. Submit your favorite original photo of the lake or its surrounding areas to editor@whiterocklakeweekly.com. You could be our next winner!
Photo by Arturo Calderon

Engineers need Dallas citizens to determine a course of action that will affect the future of White Rock Lake. At a standing room only meeting on Tuesday evening at Winfrey Point, representatives from the City of Dallas Park and Recreation Department, Dallas Water Utilities and the Freese and Nichols (FN) engineering firm explained the process of the White Rock Lake Dredging Feasibility Study.

Saying he is “submerging” himself in this project, FN engineer David Riviera explained the actual dredging process. The huge equipment includes a cutter-section head pump, which grinds the sediment from the bottom of the lake while simultaneously sucking out the water. 

During the evaluation period of this study, the city is considering costs, schedules and construction details. From now through May, officials are studying methods, risk factors and environmental impact. The goal is to restore the water depth at the lake. “It does not,” Riviera stressed, “provide for flood control.” He reminded the crowd that White Rock Lake is not a flood control lake.

The lake has been dredged four times in the past, most recently in 1996-98. The sediment from that dredge was used to create Mockingbird Point. Noting dramatic progress made in dredging technology since then, Riviera said, “We want intelligent dredging.” He cited successful past dredging efforts that enabled sediment to be pumped directly from the lake through a non-stop pipeline into an empty gravel pit in Hutchins, Texas. The process benefitted all involved.

Organizers of the meeting asked those gathered to download a special app on their Smartphones so they could participate in a live, interactive survey. Questions included what areas of the lake users enjoy, which trails users take and what buildings at the lake users visit. The survey also included impact concerns, like smell, noise and street closures. 

A large screen sat at the front of the meeting room. Realtime answers were represented by little colored dots on that screen. When the crowd was asked the question as to whether or not they were strongly in favor or strongly against the dredging project, those little colored dots quickly flew to the “strongly in favor” side of the screen. Only one dot hovered over the “strongly against” choice.

The FN engineers stressed that a well-done plan depends on this dredging feasibility study. The community is invited to participate in the study by taking a survey at tinyurl.com/white-rock-dredging. Neighbors can also call 214-948-4682 and request a hard copy of the survey. “We are sensitive to what the community says,” Riviera said. “But,” he added jokingly to the bicyclists attending the meeting, “No stuffing the ballot box!”