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New Performance Audit Calls for Improved Planning and Prioritization for ODNR’s Inland Lakes Dredging Program
For Immediate Release
COLUMBUS – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) should establish a formal process for prioritizing and planning the systematic removal of sediment from the state’s inland lakes, Auditor of State Keith Faber announced Tuesday.
The recommendation was included in a review of ODNR’s dredging program, which works to maintain the water quality of Ohio’s inland lakes and water depths to allow boating and other recreational activities.
Of particular concern, state auditors noted an ongoing lack of systematic collection and use of dredging data to assess the effectiveness and cost of dredging activities. A report released Tuesday calls for strategic planning and more detailed tracking of dredging activities and spending to ensure adequate equipment, personnel, and storage space for removed sediment is available when needed.
“Our inland lakes are vital resources to their communities and must be cared for to ensure they are accessible and healthy,” Auditor Faber said. “ODNR should pursue an enhanced approach to their data collection on its dredging program to ensure places like Grand Lake St. Marys and Buckeye Lake are protected and available for future generations of Ohioans to enjoy.”?
The dredging program performance audit was conducted by the Auditor of State’s Ohio Performance Team (OPT), which reviews the operations of government agencies and programs and offers recommendations to improve their efficiency and effectiveness.
ODNR’s Division of State Parks and Watercraft is responsible for the dredging program as part of its waterway maintenance and safety programming. The Division has permanent dredging operations at four inland lakes (Buckeye Lake, Grand Lake St. Marys, Indian Lake, and Lake Loramie), with additional sentiment removal at up to seven additional lakes annually, as needed.
In Fiscal Year 2021, the permanent dredge operations removed 436,553 cubic yards of materials, with an additional 293,088 cubic yards removed from other statewide efforts.
OPT’s analysis of the effectiveness of the dredging program was limited by a lack of data collected and reviewed by ODNR, including long-term projections of storage space needed for sediment removed from lakes, reasons why dredge equipment was not in use as planned, and project-specific details of how the $5.5 million in average annual dredging program spending was used.
Among other recommendations, OPT urged, “The Division should improve the collection of dredge-related performance data, including specific causes of dredge downtime. Without sufficient data to track and analyze dredge performance, the Division risks making suboptimal decisions about dredge planning and equipment replacement.”
A copy of the full dredging program performance audit is available online.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio is responsible for auditing more than 5,900 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Keith Faber, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies, and promotes transparency in government.
Contact: Marc Kovac