DNREC asks for public input for inland bay dredging

SUSSEX COUNTY, Del. – DNREC is preparing for potential dredging of Delaware’s inland bays, but they need your help to prioritize their those projects. Locals are asked to complete a quick survey to help DNREC craft what dredge projects we could see.

The clean-up is not just overdue, it’s desired by many in the boating and fishery industries, and many of the experts we spoke to say that DNREC’s work will go a long way.

“It’s shallow everywhere out there. But even in the channels, if you will, where you’re supposed to navigate, there are areas where there are many choke points where the sand has drifted in and choked them off,” said Captain Glen Smith, the owner of Rt. 113 Boat Sales & Service.

Smith gave us a little glimpse into some of the challenges of navigating the inland bays, with a look at aerial maps that show just how shallow much of the water is. This shallow water leads to narrow passage ways that every boater is forced to use.

“At some point they all have to converge on a very narrow area, which makes it very dangerous.”

State Senator Gerald Hocker says this has been an issue for years, that the current design of the inlet has led to bad current flow leading to the desperate need for dredging.

“We’ve done a very poor job protecting our bays. And until we get the dredging project that we need, and the people on board, you’re not going to clean the bays up and it’s just going to be too long of a process,” said Hocker, a Republican from Senate District 20.

According to the Senator, the shallow low-quality water is keeping fish, clams and oyster away.

“When you have tourists come here and they say don’t eat the clams out of this water, don’t eat the fish out of this water, chances are they may not be back.”

Senator Hocker says that the project will simply be a bandage unless it is done right. But if it is done right, the senator says the waterways could lead to economic and environmental prosperity for the region. To do it right, he says the inland bays beaches must be restored, and structures remaining in the inlet from previous projects need to be removed. He claims a one-time dredge project would be an estimated $8 millions.

You have until October 31 to answer the survey.

Categories: Delaware, Local News