A crew was out on Lake Redwood Monday afternoon taking last-minute soundings along the shoreline in preparation of dredging beginning this month.

Area planners have spent over 25 years trying to coordinate many different levels of government to work together on the effort to dredge Lake Redwood back to its original depth of up to 20 feet.

And with the nice weather, dredging could start in less than two weeks.

The Redwood-Cottonwood Rivers Control Area (RCRCA) has received special permission from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resouces to begin dredging as soon as April 15, a month earlier than the DNR usually allows.

The DNR required several conditions, though. A floating silt curtain has to be installed upsteam of the dam, dredging has to start in the western bay, near the park area, and two data probes will be installed in the river to keep track of the water quality throughout the dredging process.

Currently, the main contracting firm, JF Brennan, of La Crosse, Wis., is finishing the pipeline that will carry away the sediment to a containment site. They’re also testing to make sure water quality standards will be met.

When the hydraulic dredge, named the Michael B, arrives Lake Redwood will be closed to the public for safety. The dredging effort will operate seven days per week, 24 hours a day to remove the permitted 650,000 cubic yards of accumulated sediment in the lake.

The RCRCA intends to have a brief celebration to kick off the first day of dreging. The firm of JF Brennen is confident they can complete the project in one dredging season. Excessively low or high river flows, and uncovered debris in the lake can affect the production schedule.

The project will restore the depth of Lake Redwood up to 20 feet, improve water quality, restore recreational opportunities, increase water depth and clarity for aquatic habitat, and improve the water supply for the City’s hydroelectric dam.

Coordination of the project is being shared by the RCRCA, handling the fiscal and contract management, and the City of Redwood Falls, providing oversight of project management. The project is being financed using a combination of State of Minnesota bonds and funds from the City of Redwood Falls.