Innovations

UN Sustainable Development Goal

14
Life Below Water

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  • Chris Laszlo
    Chris Laszlo Great example of using naturally occuring hydro power (river flow) to gather sediment that creates a problem in the river area and sell it on where it can be a benefit.
    July 15, 2016
  • Valerie Hyman
    Valerie Hyman This is a simple, inexpensive solution to a big problem which also provides value by selling the potentially problematic sediment.
    July 15, 2016

Clean Waterways, Less Waste

Date published: 15 Jul 2016
Cleveland, OH, United States     2 likes   2

Overview

Sediment is a common source of water pollution and one of the leading causes of poor water quality and aquatic habitat. The build-up of sediment drastically reduces water depth, increases the risk of bank erosion and flooding, and makes navigation through the waterways extremely difficult.

Kurtz Bros. and Streamside Technology have partnered with the Port Authority of Cleveland to offer sediment collectors which use the natural energy of the waterway. This innovation has allowed business in the city of Cleveland to benefit by providing access to clean waterways and decreasing the environmental impact of storing dredged sediment.

 

 

innovation photo

Innovation

The Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie are used as shipping channels for large ships bringing in raw material and sending out finished products from the Cleveland area to the rest of the world. In order for the ships to traverse this channel the harbor bottom has to be routinely dredged of sediment. 

In 2014, the Port Authority of Cleveland was in a bind regarding disposal of this dredged sediment. Its disposal facility was reaching capacity and building a new facility would cost around $150 million.  The Environmental Protection Agency disagreed with putting untreated sediment into the open waters of Lake Erie fearing increase in PCB levels. This required an innovative approach to problem solving from the Port Authority of Cleveland using the age-old cliché of one person's trash is another's treasure.

Kurtz Bros. started 65 years ago as a landscape supply company.  It has embraced the principles of recycling and the full circle of recycling materials. This has allowed its growth into waste resource management, beneficial reuse, and organic material recycling.  As per Jason Ziss from Kurtz Bros., "We get stuck in perceptions, that garbage is garbage."

Kurtz Bros. had been sourcing topsoil to supply to landscaping businesses from silt and sediments from rivers in the Cuyahoga Valley for the past 65 years. In 2014 the company submitted a proposal which was accepted by the Port Authority. It would allow for installation of a collector to trap sediment before it enters the navigation channel.

The company viewed the sediment not as waste, but as raw material of silt, sand, and clay which can be used for landscaping and construction projects around the state. In collaboration with Streamside technology, a sediment collector similar to one used in Fountain Creek, Colorado was installed in the Cuyahoga River. This collector essentially works as a speed bump with filters. It allows water and organic material to flow over the grates but any sediment above 0.25mm is deposited into the collector. The sediment is then pumped out and run through a sand screw which separates the water and deposits the sands. This sand is stacked and made available to the open market as uniform sands or aggregate. 

This sediment collector has decreased sediment deposition in the navigation channel and a proportional reduction in dredging efforts. This sediment collector can also be used to remove excess bed-load sediment in a wide variety of rivers and streams. This would prevent flooding especially during major storm events and prevent loss of life and property for communities along the water.

Overall impact

The overall impact of installing the sediment collector has been a decrease in dredging efforts. This has led to an extension in the life of the confined disposal facility and prevented dumping of this potentially toxic sediment into Lake Erie.

Inspiration

The sediment collector was developed by Randall Tucker, an engineer and avid fisherman. He discovered that his favorite fishing hole on the Little Manistee River in Lake County, Michigan had been filled (?) with sediment.  He put his engineering skills to work and came up with this novel solution which now may lead to the salvation of the Port of Cleveland.

Meanwhile, Kurtz Bros. had transitioned from a landscaping supply company to a waste management company. It also operated multiple sites on the Cuyahoga River and had built a reputation in the community around its sustainable practices.  In 2014, The Port of Cleveland needed a solution for its dredged sediment. As per Jason, "The stars aligned," and allowed for the collaboration between Streamside, Kurtz Bros. and the port to solve this problem in a simple and sustainable manner.

 

Business benefit

The Port Authority of Cleveland purchased the sediment collector from Streamside for $1.5 million. Kurtz Bros. installed the collector in the Cuyahoga River and has sold the recovered silt, sand, and clay in the open market. In addition, Kurtz Bros. also manages the confined disposal facility for the port and has been working with Hull engineers to recycle existing sediment into raw material.

Social and environmental benefit

The decrease in sediment deposition in the shipping lanes has led to a proportional decrease in dredging efforts.  In 2014 the confined disposal facility on the shore of Lake Erie had reached capacity. This would have required construction of an additional facility to store sediment at a cost of $150 million to Ohio taxpayers. This simple  solution has extended the life of the current disposal facility by an additional 50 years and saved valuable tax dollars. The decrease in dredged sediment prevented the proposed dumping in the middle of the lake and the possible increase in PCB levels in Lake Erie fish.

Overall, Lake Erie remains the most valuable natural resource for the city of Cleveland and the residents of Ohio. The sediment collector will hopefully protect this resource for the future generations.

Interview(s)

Jason Ziss, Business Development

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2 comments
  • Whitney Kear and Claire Sommer like this
  • Chris Laszlo
    Chris Laszlo Great example of using naturally occuring hydro power (river flow) to gather sediment that creates a problem in the river area and sell it on where it can be a benefit.
    July 15, 2016
  • Valerie Hyman
    Valerie Hyman This is a simple, inexpensive solution to a big problem which also provides value by selling the potentially problematic sediment.
    July 15, 2016