City still planning Patoka riverbank reinforcement


JASPER — After an extended wait, bids for a stalled City of Jasper project that would remove a sediment pile in the Patoka River near the Jasper City Mill and install a toe wood shelf on the west side of the dam are set to be opened later this month.

Other than being an aesthetic eyesore, the sediment buildup takes up space in the river’s channel and restricts flow downstream. The shelf will reinforce the riverbank — which has been eroding — and narrow the width of the channel in the area to 80 feet, which is the width of the river up and downstream from the dam. Currently, the channel at the mill is about 130 feet wide. If the shelf isn’t installed, the sediment pile would need to be removed periodically.

City of Jasper Engineer Chad Hurm explained that the project would create a low shelf or a low bank in the river to approximate the width of the river above the dam and also farther down stream so the river flows in a “straight shot” and doesn’t bowl out when water runs through. Sediment that is dug out of the collected pile in the river will be used to fill in the area where the shelf will be built.

According to Herald archives, Hurm had expected work to begin on the project sometime in July. Part of the work involves using tree root wads as a natural barrier for stabilization and erosion controllers along the riverbank side of the shelf, and some interested contractors originally had difficulty finding them. That postponed the opening of the bids to a special meeting at 8 a.m. Sept. 17, at Jasper City Hall. Hurm estimated the project will cost about $100,000, and be paid for with city of Jasper dollars.

“What we’re hoping that will do is it will keep that sediment and everything that comes over the dam there from slowing down and settling back out,” he said. “It’ll keep it moving, and then when the river comes up, it’ll push that sediment back out into the farm fields where it belongs.”

After the bids are opened, Hurm estimated the project will take about a month or two to complete, but noted heavy rain would slow progress. He said work will hopefully start at the beginning of October.

According to Herald archives, a 2015 article on the Michigan Department of Natural Resource’s website talks about a toe wood project on Michigan’s Highbanks Creek in Barry County in an area where a stream had been dammed for a mill more than 100 years ago. Like the area where Jasper plans to build its toe wood shelf, the area cited in the article had fallen victim to erosion and sediment buildup. Once the project was compete, the Michigan DNR not only saw a more stable riverbed, but also more schools of fish in the area. A toe wood project in Minnesota saw similar results, the article said.

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