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Fishing, canoeing resumes at Brainerd Lake as dredging project is completed

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Chillas
The dredging of Brainerd Lake in Cranbury Township won't occur in 2020. 

The dredging of Brainerd Lake has been officially completed after a switch in construction firms and delays from weather slowed the project.

After two years, the project was completed the week of May 7. According to Township Administrator Denise Marabello, fishing has already begun again and canoeing is once again permitted on the lake.

“The dredging of Brainerd Lake took a long time to come to fruition and I think the way it was handled was professionally done. It is now complete,” Mayor Barbara Rogers said at the Township Committee’s May 9 meeting.

Committeeman Matt Scott added that the dredging of the lake is kind of a thankless task.

“If you drive by the lake it is full again. If you look closely it looks better and healthier,” he said.

The lake is located near the center of downtown Cranbury and feeds into Cranbury Brook where there is a dam.

Brainerd Lake had to be lowered for the project, so that sediment could be physically removed with excavators. Sediment, a combination of clay, silt and debris, had to be removed in order to get the lake back to its full water capacity.

A staging area was set up in Village Park for the project so that trucks could remove material offsite.

The original plan by the township was to have the dredging of the lake completed in the fall of 2020. That plan was unable to come to fruition after the after the Township Committee terminated a $3.79 million contract bid with Tricon Enterprises, Inc. in 2020.

Township officials had claimed at the time that the termination was due to not receiving adequate dewatering (removal and discharge of sediment-laden water) plans in time to lower the lake by the beginning of November 2020.

The committee would then later authorize a settlement agreement and release and pay Tricon $110,000.

In preparation for a rebidding process in 2021 and making certain a bidder could complete the project, the governing body approved bidder pre-qualifications regulations.

In 2021, the Cranbury Township Committee awarded a $3.08 million contract to SumCo Eco-Contracting for the dredging of Brainerd Lake.

According to the firm’s website, SumCo Eco-Contracting is a heavy site civil construction firm that is focused on ecological and environmental improvement projects and headquartered in Peabody, Massachusetts.

The dredging of the lake, which is the process of removing sand, silt and debris from gradually filling the bottom of water bodies such as lakes, began in October 2021 and would have work slowed due to rainfall events experienced in the past year.


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