Work to begin dredging Murphey Candler Lake began Jan. 15. Brookhaven officials expect more than 20,000 tons of sediment and debris to be removed over the next six months. (City of Brookhaven)

More than 20,000 tons of sediment and debris are expected to be removed during the dredging of a portion of Brookhaven’s Murphey Candler Lake over the next six months.

Dredging of the lake within the 135-acre Murphey Candler Park on West Nancy Creek Drive began Jan. 15, a day after the City Council approved a nearly $1.8 million contract to Merrell Bros. Inc. of Kokomo, Indiana, to complete the job. Dredging the lake was recommended in the city’s Nancy Creek watershed plan approved in 2016 and the city expects it to be finished within 180 days.

The project includes removing approximately 13,768 cubic yards of sediment, weighing 20,650 tons, from the northern section of the lake near I-285. The accumulated sand and debris have created sand berms where invasive species are growing, according to the city.

The dredging includes opening an emergency sliding gate, or sluice gate, to a large drainage pipe under the dam located in the southern section of the lake. Doing so will release water into the north fork of Peachtree Creek to lower the lake level and allow for any needed maintenance along the edges, according to the city.

Opening and closing the gate near the low-level drain to make sure it is working was also recommended as part of the Nancy Creek watershed improvement plan as part of ensuring the dam’s safety.

Public Works Director Hari Karikaran said residents downstream will see an increase in flows due to the release and a discoloration of the water in Nancy Creek due to sediment accumulation around the low-level drain.

The Murphey Candler Park ballfields will not be affected, but the project requires closing the lake’s east side parking lot and walking trail.

An overhead power line adjacent to the parking lot will be removed to make way for a large crane. The dredging will include putting three barges in the lake and staging two excavators along the eastern shore of the lake, the city said.

The dredged material will be hauled to designated landfills in metro Atlanta, meaning an increase in truck traffic during the project. The truck route is limited to West Nancy Creek between the parking lot and Ashford-Dunwoody Road, and on Ashford-Dunwoody Road between West Nancy Creek and I-285, according to a news release.

The contractor will be working Mondays through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The city’s $40 million parks bond included $1 million to dredge Murphey Candler Lake. The city is taking the remaining $800,000 to pay for the project from the general fund’s unassigned fund balance, or reserves.