Ocean City Today
https://oceancitytoday.villagesoup.com/p/1723547

County steps up to fund inlet study

Commissioners vote to contribute $300K
By Brian Gilliland | Feb 08, 2018

(Feb. 9, 2018) The outstanding matter of who will pay for the local share of a study to determine the source of shoaling that threatens the efficacy of the Ocean City Inlet was answered Tuesday, when the Worcester County Commissioners voted unanimously to foot the $300,000 bill.

Previously, some mixture of state, county and city funding were considered, as was using surplus beach replenishment money to generate the local contribution.

The matter, which was not on the official agenda, was brought forward by Ocean City’s representative on the board, Joe Mitrecic.

“It was brought up at our last meeting that we need to move on this if we plan on supporting and having the [Department of Natural Resources] and Army Corps be part of the study. Our part of that is $300,000,” he said.

Mitrecic made a motion to “find the money to support that study.”

Commissioner Bud Church, who has attended several meetings with government officials and staff as well as local commercial fishermen, said time was of the essence, and “we need to move on this now.”

Mitrecic also said the county could “ask Ocean City for a possible contribution” toward restoring navigability to the inlet.

The vote to support the motion was unanimous.

The Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for maintaining the inlet based on its funding, which is set by Congress. For the past several years, this has meant occasional dredging of problem areas within the inlet, with some added benefit from separate Assateague bypass work.

The Army Corps has a separate deal with the National Park Service to conduct operations near Assateague Island, and uses material dredged from the inlet as a bonus to the procedure. However, these solutions are not complete fixes, as the inlet continues to fill in and boats continue to run aground.

The Army Corps has approved the inlet to a depth of 10 feet, with another two feet of overdraft. A recent survey by the Department of Natural Resources shows the waterway is much shallower than that in places, with depths of about two feet showing in some areas.

Local commercial fishermen have long waited for high tide to attempt entering or exiting the inlet, with the increased volume of water helping boats to sail smoothly. This doesn’t always work, as the commercial fishing vessel Instigator again found itself racing the clock to get to market after it ran aground during high tide in January.

A hydrodynamic study of the area was conducted by the Army Corps in the late 1990s, but no action was taken on that study. In 2015, the idea of a new study emerged and while letters of intent were signed and sent, no money was allocated by local governments to fund the local share of the project until this past Tuesday.

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