SULLIVAN COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — The Sullivan County Park and Lake is working to update its Lake Sullivan sediment removal plan to ensure its long-term success.

With the help of a DNR Lake and River Enhancement grant, the board updated the lake’s sediment depth study and composition assessment. Those findings will help update the plan for dredging, something board members said is long overdue.

“Lake Sullivan was built, started, in 1966 by the Army Core of Engineers and opened in 1968, and in the master plan it was supposed to be dredged every 15 years and it’s never been dredged since 1968,” Chris Egge, Sullivan County Park, and Lake board member said.

Board member, Katie Harrison, said the lake dredging project has been a huge topic of conversation, “It had been previously visited by past boards, but it is a huge capital project, and it requires a lot of money, a lot of organization, and a lot of funding.”

Egge said the board has made it through the phases of soil studies and a lake survey.

“We found that the soil composition, there’s nothing harmful in it. So, that opens up a lot of possibilities. Where it can go, what it can be used for,” he said. “The real challenge right now is trying to figure out where we can put it because it has to dewater a couple years. And then it’s A-grade topsoil,” he added.

The board is also busy exploring funding opportunities to make this process a reality.

“Grants is obviously our number one avenue that we are trying to get this funded,” Harrison said.

“We’re working with some other entities as well, but DNR has the LARE grant program,” Egge said.

Harrison said if the dredging doesn’t happen, the lake will continue to collect sediment, “Which it was originally designed to collect sediment, so it is doing its job. However, part of it doing its job is ongoing maintenance so it can remain functional. So, it will continue to fill up.”

Filling up is not what board members want to see happen. They want to make the lake better for boating, and fishing, and for homeowners in coves that are no longer usable.

“This is a regional asset and not just a county asset,” Egge said.

The asset is Sullivan County Park and Lake as a whole.

With roughly 500 campsites available, Egge said, “70% of them are full all-season March to October. So, this is like its own little community.”

“84.6% of our long-term campers, are not from Sullivan County,” Harrison said. “We want to keep the lake healthy for years to come, so those outside residents keep coming and spending their time in Sullivan County,” she added.

“All of that has a direct impact into the city and surrounding area with businesses. You buy your groceries here, you get your gas here, you fill your boat up here. The economic impact is pretty substantial,” Egge said.

The hope of the board?

“We want to keep this lake healthy and available for everybody,” Harrison said. “And just that this will be a vital part of our community for years to come.”

As for the timeline, they’ll be in the current phase one for the next year. And while dependent on several factors she said the board would like to move through all three phases in the next five to six years, but they need the community’s help.

The Sullivan County Park and Lake Board will hold a public input session on the dredging project on Wednesday, November 15 at 7:00 PM at the Sullivan Civic Center.

“We want the homeowners, and we want the public and the local community to come out and give us their input on the project,” Egge said. “Ask their questions, let us answer them to the best we can at this point, you know, that way there is that clear transparent communication between the people that will be impacted and affected.”