WATERLOO -- Dump truck after dump truck filled up at the BMC Aggegates sand plant on a sunny Thursday morning.

As each load of material rumbled out of the exit gates, plans for an expanded Cedar Valley boating and water recreation playground moved closer to fruition.

BMC, also known as Basic Materials Corp. has been mining land north of the current Brinker Lake at George Wyth State Park under a deal struck in 1997 with the city of Waterloo and Brinker family. The dredging operation has created another body of water, which will be connected to Brinker Lake -- potentially doubling the size of what is now one of the few area lakes large enough to accommodate public boating and skiing.

"This will become part of the Chain of Lakes," said BMC geologist Sherman Lundy, referring to the lakes created as material was mined for the area highway construction projects starting the 1980s.

"It could happen in a couple of years or it could be three" before the mining area is added to Brinker Lake, Lundy said. "It all depends on the market because we're selling what we mine here."

A thin strip of land is all that separates the dredging area from the recreational waters now. And as the dredge moves closer to Brinker Lake, officials with the company, the city and Iowa Department of Natural Resources are increasingly concerned with keeping those activities apart.

"The issue right now is safety," said Paul Huting, the city's Leisure Services director. "As they mine under that remaining ribbon of sand, there's a possibility if you are fishing on it, it could go down and take you with it."

Added Lundy, "If that happens, you're going to be looking at a lot of sand for about 60 feet down."

"This is an active mining area," he added. "People only see what's on the top. They don't see that when the auger is running underneath it creates voids ? which eventually will give way."

Visitors to Brinker Lake will begin noticing some changes soon as the IDNR, BMC and city work to make the north shore a "no trespassing" area.

"We're doing this for the public's safety and to make a much better recreational opportunity for all the public," said Gary Dusenberry, park ranger at George Wyth. "If the public can bear with us during the construction process, we're going to increase the size of their recreation area."

The current lake is 116 acres but will grow to about 180 acres when the current dredging operation opens to the public. When BMC finishes mining farther north it will add even more surface to the lake.

Dusenberry said the park likely will start with some "no trespassing" buoys starting on the northwest side of the lake, but BMC is working on a floating buoy system to keep the boats away from the shore. The entire north shore, including the old parking lot and boat ramp area on the end of Donald Street, also will be off limits for safety reasons.

"People from Greenbrier (residential area) will still be allowed access on top of the dike to get to the park," he added.

Under the original agreement 1997, BMC and the Brinker family donated 72 acres of land to the city and the city put up another 20 acres. An amendment in 2004 freed up additional land for mining at the west end of Donald Street .

BMC leases the property in return for paying a 3 percent royalty on the company's average net selling price for the material mined from the city land. The deal has generated nearly $388,000 for city coffers to date.

Ward 3 Councilman Harold Getty, who represents the area nearest the lake, said he expects some people may be upset about being kept off the north shore. But he said the end result will be worth it.

"Now it's dangerous," Getty said. "But it's going to be a big beautiful lake when they get it all done."

Contact Tim Jamison at

(319) 291-1577 or

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