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Lake Logan dredging could reduce flood danger

Removing sediment from Lake Logan would not only benefit its owner, Evergreen Packaging, it could potentially save homes and businesses from flooding, according to a study that was recently completed by McGill Associates.

“If we’re successful, we could lower the lake level, hold the floodwaters, and decrease impact,” said Joel Storrow, president of McGill Associates.

Evergreen Packaging primarily uses the lake to maintain the water flow necessary for its paper mill operations. Lowering the lake level would increase water storage capacity for Evergreen, while simultaneously holding back floodwater that could potentially damage properties located downstream. Increasing the lake’s capacity would therefore remove properties from the floodplain.

Just how many properties would be saved by dredging Lake Logan is dependent on how much sediment is removed. Lowering the lake by 10 feet would remove 15 structures from the flood plain. Dredging 15 feet from the lake would save 23 structures, while lowering Lake Logan 20 feet would save 29 properties.

Evergreen says it is only comfortable with dropping the lake by 10 feet, however, due to fears that filling up a lake that’s 15 or 20 feet deeper during a drought would prove challenging.

McGill has compiled preliminary cost estimates, which show it would take $1.8 million to draw down the lake by 15 feet; $6.8 million to drop the lake 15 feet; and $9.8 million to dredge 20 feet.

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Storrow said he plans to pursue funding from the Federal Emergency Management Association, which could potentially provide 75 percent of the cost.

However, the recession means FEMA, like many other agencies, has less funding to dole out in grants.

“This is a very competitive program,” said Storrow. “This isn’t a slam dunk.”

However, because McGill’s study incorporated floodplain mapping from the state and the Army Corp of Engineers, it can back up its claims that dredging the lake would save homes, thereby making its application more competitive.

The study was commissioned after the devastating 2004 floods with state and federal aid funds. The Town of Canton received enough aid to fund 50 percent of the study, while Haywood County and Evergreen provided 25 percent each.

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