QUINCY -- Major environmental restoration work could be coming to the Quincy Bay area if a federal grant is awarded for the project.
If completed, deeper water depths needed to support fish habitats would be restored in the area, and sediment accumulation in Quincy Bay could be reduced substantially.
The proposed $20 million project would include dredging 118 acres of Quincy Bay, building dike and weir structures at the Bay Island access channel and create above flood elevation islands on Bay Island and northeast of Triangle Lake for reforestation.
Money for the work, which would be covered entirely by the grant, is set aside annually for Upper Mississippi River restoration work as part of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986.
It's the first time Quincy Bay has been on the short list for the project.
"We're losing our natural species because we don't have the greater depth for the habitat for wintering," said Mike Klingner, president of Klingner and Associates. "The upper bay is only about a foot deep, where before the lock and dams were built, we had quite a bit of depth -- in some places 10 feet deep."
A group representing the Quincy Bay Area Restoration and Enhancement Association, which was organized in 2010, made a presentation before the U.S. Corps of Engineers last month in Dubuque, Iowa.
The association's members include the city of Quincy, Quincy Park District, Quincy Boat Club, Great River Economic Development Foundation, Quincy Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Mississippi Valley Hunters and Fishermen's Association.
Klingner said a 1987 study on Quincy Bay by the Illinois State Water Survey found most of the sediment in the bay comes from high-water events.
The islands created north of the BNSF railroad bridge are projected to help reduce the amount of water that enters the bay.
The work at the Bay Island access channel is expected also to reduce sediment flow by 50 percent.
"It's so shallow you can't even boat back there," Klingner said. "People get their boats stuck, even heading into the marina. We've lost a lot of people that would be docking in Quincy because they can't get their boats into the bay."
Rome Frericks, executive director of the Quincy Park District, said the district spends about $35,000 from the marina fund annually to dredge the two entrances to Quincy Bay to allow boats access into Art Keller Marina.
"We have a 10-year dredge permit that we just renewed, and we have to get permission from the Corps of Engineers just to dredge the two entrances," Frericks said. "We do not own that. People think the Park District owns it, but that is actually Corps ground."
Klingner said he believes a decision could be announced in a few months. Three projects are selected from 10 applicants.
If the Quincy Bay project is selected, work would be slated for 2020 to 2022.
If awarded, maintenance cost for the work is expected to cost about $52,500 annually, which would be handled by the association.