Repairing an eroding shore
WORTHINGTON -- In late November 2009, Paul Langseth stood atop a 20-foot cliff and looked straight down into the murky waters of Lake Ocheda as he spoke of how the lake's depth has declined from six feet when he was a child to the four feet it is today.
At the time, Langseth was looking for funding to complete an estimated $170,000 lakeshore stabilization project on his family's land along the eastern shores of Lake Ocheda's east basin.
He said years of soil erosion has resulted in a loss of at least 20 feet of the family's lakeshore land, and that dirt now lines the bottom of the lake.
It took nearly three years to secure the funding, but with a $162,000 Clean Water Legacy grant, monetary contributions from the Nobles County Soil and Water Conservation District and Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District and a 25 percent, in-kind match from the Langseths, the shoreline stabilization project has been under way for much of the summer.
In July and early August, more than 20,000 cubic yards of clay, which the Langseths had stockpiled on their property over the course of the past three years, was hauled in and dumped between the steep bank and the still water.
The clay came from various construction projects in the area. Jagged rock was also hauled in and stacked along 800 feet of shoreline to deflect wave action and keep the new clay bank in place.
"They'll bring in a bulldozer, grade this down to the slope it needs to be, and then we'll put fabric over it," said Langseth as he walked along a makeshift road created by trucks last week. "This will be our breakwater, basically, to try to hold this bank back."
After the geotextile fabric is in place, the jagged rocks will be placed on top of it and extend eight to 10 feet into the lake. Langseth said the goal is to have the new clay berm and rock extend beyond the high water mark to prevent further damage to the existing shoreline.
"In the past, the water has gotten over the rocks and behind them, eroding the soil," Langseth explained. "The ice pushed the rock back and then when it melted in the spring, it started over again.
"Ideally, when we get the grade going out, we'll have a slight back slope, acting almost like a terrace," he added. "Any runoff ... that hits this slope will fall onto the bank and it has to get out 20 feet before it disappears."
By the end of September, Langseth said the rock will be in place and grass and trees will be planted on the new berm.
Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.