MCCANDLESS (KDKA) — Dredging has come to a halt out at North Park Lake, the victim of heavy rains that has poured lots of water into the once empty lake – water that still surrounds at least one bulldozer.

“Obviously the weather we had this past week and Thanksgiving week will make things a little bit difficult,” notes Craig Carney, the project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The lake was first drained in Sept. 2009 and more than 300,00 cubic feet of muck was supposed to be hauled away by contractors – first for the Corps of Engineers and then for Allegheny County’s Public Works Department.

“Overall, combined overall dredging of two contracts was 315,000 cubic yards. To date, we are probably about 200,000 cubic yards,” says Carney.

But with the lake filled back up with water, workers are back to removing debris from the drains. County Public Works Director Joe Olczak hopes to start dredging again in another week or so and complete the project on time.

“We still feel confident that May 1st is going to be a doable, achievable goal,” says Olszak.

Olczak says disputes among the contractors about sediment removal have been worked out and that the project is not over budget.

“There has been no cost overrun to this point,” he said. “We haven’t spent all of the money we already had allotted for this. I think the misnomer is the request for an additional $3 million.”

That request, says Olczak, is to take advantage of the dredging to repair the gate house, do some bridge repair and remove sediment from another tributary.

So while the geese enjoy the temporary water, officials say the public will soon enjoy a restored and better North Park Lake.

“Again, we appreciate their patience,” says Carney.

Officials insist that barring any unusual weather this winter and spring, the lake will be completely dredged, filled back up with water with lots of fish by this coming summer. Of course, local residents can be forgiven if they have just a little bit of skepticism.

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