Ocean City Today

Shoaling inlet problem mirrored down south

Nov 16, 2017



printed 11/17/2017


If it seems that a real solution to the shoaling problem in Ocean City Inlet remains far over the horizon, that feeling can be substantiated by looking south.

Specifically, that would be south to Oregon Inlet on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and about an hour-and-a-half down the road at Hatteras Inlet.

Oregon Inlet, which was created by a hurricane in 1846, has experienced even more trouble than Ocean City’s narrow waterway, and nearly was declared impassable to commercial vessels by the Coast Guard just six years ago.

Like Ocean City’s inlet activists, charter and recreational boating interests down in Dare County joined commercial fishing operators earlier this decade to demand that something be done.

Finally, something did, but not in the way they had hoped. After hearing the Army Corps of Engineers say the same thing its representatives said here last week — local and state government should consider paying for maintenance dredging themselves — that’s what they did in 2016.

Meanwhile, similar maritime interests in the Hatteras area want to use that same approach because of a large shoal that all but blocks the mouth of that inlet.

Obviously, the biggest problem for these thin nautical corridors is nature — it giveth and  taketh away without remorse. It also has no budget, which is the other critical element.

“Based on our current funding …” is what Corps representatives say every time when asked if the federal government can help, because it’s better than saying “not a chance in hell.”

It isn’t the engineers’ fault that they don’t get the money to solve these multiple coastal problems. That call is made by Congress and it’s tough for these smaller projects — although they’re critical to us — to get a reservation at that table.

With that in mind, local, county and state governments also might start looking south for answers, since that seems to be the only available course of action … based on our current funding.

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