Ocean City Today

Assateague Is. dredging delayed

By Brian Gilliland | Apr 26, 2018
The Army Corps of Engineers dredge Currituck, pictured here working at the inlet in 2016, encountered some problems on another job and requires repairs, putting it out of commission for an undetermined amount of time. The Currituck was scheduled to begin working on the inlet again from April 25 until May 8, but the work has been delayed.

(April 27, 2018) With the revelation last week that one of the two boats available to perform routine maintenance dredging needs repairs, the Army Corps of Engineers confirmed this week that the scheduled spring dredging off Assateague Island has been delayed.

Army Corps spokesman Chris Gardner said it’s unclear when the dredging will be rescheduled.

“We don’t know for certain yet when the April/May dredging will be rescheduled for, but we’ll work with Wilmington District, the home district of the Currituck and the Murden — both of which operate all up and down the East Coast — to figure out her new dates for dredging in the inlet. We’ll share when we have more certainty regarding their rescheduled dates,” he said.

The Currituck had been scheduled to arrive April 25, and perform 15 days of dredging work to clear out the inlet and deposit the material near Assateague Island, and finish up on May 8.

The next scheduled maintenance dredging is in August, but no dates have been set.

Additionally, there are enough navigation maintenance funds remaining to fund one additional dredging run, which is planned for July, just before the start of the White Marlin Open.

It is unclear if the Currituck’s repairs will affect these future engagements.

Over the past few years, the commercial fishermen operating at the state’s only ocean-facing harbor have been running aground while entering or exiting the inlet, because it keeps filling with sand.

The fear now is the inlet has become so shallow in spots it will also begin to damage recreational vessels, which could seriously harm not only the commercial fishing industry, but the recreational one as well.

The commercial fishermen have adopted a system of timing their entry and exits from the harbor with the tides so their boats might navigate to the ocean more easily, but this has only slowed, not stopped, the incidence of boats running aground.

The county and state will partner with the federal government to fund a study of the mechanisms behind the shoaling with the intent to discover and implement a solution.

The Worcester County Commissioners recently voted to send a letter to the resort asking for assistance with the project. The vote passed 6-1, with Ocean City Commissioner Joe Mitrecic of the Ocean City district casting the dissenting vote.

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