Dave's Dozing Improves Easter Lake Water Quality with Watershed Restoration
With the water drained from Easter Lake, Dave's Dozing and Excavating is excavating tons of silt as part of the Easter Lake Watershed Restoration to improve the water quality in the Des Moines, Iowa, lake.
"The feeding stream has silted the bay in," explains Dave Ingle founder of Dave's Dozing and Excavating in Mitchellville, Iowa.
Dave's Dozing is removing about 4,000 cubic yards of silt and is installing 75 ton of riprap at the base of the piers on a two-to-one slope to stabilize the shoreline and provide a fish habitat near the handicap fishing platform.
"We're trying to restore a handicap fishing area," says Ingle. "We have to remove 8 feet of silt in front of the fishing platform and make a deeper cove."
Forward Thinking Benefits Company
Ingle credits his two Komatsu machines with giving his firm an advantage over other contractors to do projects like this. The CD110R crawler carrier rotates. Its low ground pressure is ideal for off-road trucking to service wet or sandy soils. The machines' rubber tracks enable operation on a variety of surfaces, such as silty ponds or crossing concrete and asphalt. The company has performed several erosion repairs on pike trails, because trucks could not make it down the trail.
"Erosion control and silt removal are difficult to do with conventional equipment," Ingle says. "The Komatsu machines put down only 7 pounds per square inch when loaded. We can install shoreline erosion stone in fully developed urban areas without destroying the yards, because the Komatsu machines can rotate while installing shoreline rock. "
Dave's Dozing purchased the crawler carriers during the recession, thinking ahead to how the equipment would help his business in the future. It was a smart move. Other excavating companies often subcontract to Dave's Dozing, because the crawler carriers' features are needed on their projects. Komatsu stopped selling the crawler carriers in the United States in 2011, when the government changed emissions requirements on heavy equipment.
"There are not a lot of these trucks in the Unites States, so we are grateful we have these two," Ingle says. "The machines did not have tailgates, so we built our own. They are needed to hold soupy loads."
On squishy soils, turning can ruin stability in the road. With the Komatsu crawler carriers, Ingle explains, he does not have to turn the vehicle to leave the site. The machine rotates to accept the load. Then the dumper can go back out the way it came in.
"If you have to turn around to get out, you usually destabilize everything," Ingle says. "It destroys the base."
Dave's Dozing uses 16-foot and 18-foot wide timber mats to build a stabilized road into and out of the area. Crews use a John Deere 200 Long-Reach Excavator with a 50-foot boom for pond cleanout.
"Dave's Dozing has been hired because he is a smaller contractor with the equipment we need to do this, and I think it will turn out spectacular," says Loren Lown, Parks and Natural Areas Administrator for Polk County Conservation. "It's my first project with Dave, and he's been very good."
Polk County Conservation, in conjunction with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Polk Soil and Water Conservation District, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the City of Des Moines, undertook the Easter Lake project. The Easter Lake Watershed restoration entails the 178-acre lake and its watershed. Dave's Dozing is doing a portion of the work, which Lown expects to take another two years.
"Easter Lake is an urban gem," Lown says. "This was a rural park. People hunted pheasants around it."
Back in the 1950s, Easter Lake was a coal mine. Once shut down, the county considered making it a landfill but decided instead to turn it into a lake. The urban watershed flows into the lake. Tons of soil had washed into the lake from the Yeader Creek watershed. When the park opened, about 40 percent of the watershed had been developed. Now, about 70 percent has homes and businesses on it. The lake was originally 220 acres.
"We hope when we finish this, several years down the road, it will be back to what it was when I came here," Lown says.
When Lown first began working as a biologist for the conservation department, in 1990, he recalls fishing with the then ranger in the lake, with it being between 15- and 17-feet deep. A year ago, it was 6 inches deep. The county decided to dig it out.
"It has taken a long time to gather the proper resources, both partners and dollars," Lown says. "By the time we finish the Easter Lake project, it will have cost $15 million to $18 million."
About 400,000 people visit the park annually, enjoying its recreational attributes. Lown believes it is the city's most-used park. Goals of the project are to restore the water quality and increase the aquatic health and value of the lake.
A floating dredge began the removal of an eventual 600,000 cubic yards of material, pumping sludge into an old gravel pit. The county will perform shoreline restoration and reintroduce fish. Dredging has already found two stolen vehicles, hundreds of tires, beer bottles and other trash in the lake bed.
The conservation department is considering the use of Flexamat to restore the shoreline. It's an alternative to riprap for erosion control. Its concrete blocks lock together and give flexibility for vegetation growth.
Project leaders also are taking steps to prevent the damaging silt from reaching Easter Lake by building dams, grade stabilization structures and retention ponds. Lown hopes the work being done now will eliminate the need to do more for the next 30 years.
"We have a lot of work to do, especially shoreline and in-lake work," Lown says. "This is where the smaller contractors, such as Dave's Dozing, comes in with its specialized muck trucks."
A Focus on Erosion Repairs
Ingle founded Dave's Dozing in 1985. In addition to cleaning out mucky ponds and erosion repairs, the company performs basement excavations, demolitions, drainage tiling, water lines, concrete tear outs, tree removal, culvert and driveway installation, and other tasks. Ingle's wife, Joyce, and his sons Rodney and Ryan, work full-time and part-time, respectively, for the firm. Dave's Dozing primarily works within a 70-mile radius of Des Moines, but Ingle will consider projects farther away.
The company has a significant fleet of equipment. In addition to the Komatsu crawler carriers, it owns four excavators, a track skid loader, a tandem truck for road travel and two crawler loaders.
"In the past, I ran a weld shop, and that experience has allowed me to modify 10 out of 11 pieces of equipment I own," Ingle says. "Now they better fit the things we do. You have to have the right equipment for this specialized type of work. With all the development done in the Des Moines metro area in the last 25 years, it has revealed all kinds of stormwater management problems. We believe the core of our business, going forward, is erosion repair and silt removal."