SNOW HILL – Plans to dredge the channel from the Ocean City Inlet to the West Ocean City Harbor and the harbor turning basins will have to wait until Worcester County staff identifies a suitable site for the dredge spoil.
The Federal Navigation Project calls for the dredging of a 10-foot deep and 150-foot wide channel in the bottom of Assawoman Bay from the Inlet to the head of the West Ocean City commercial harbor. The dredging project also includes the turning basins in the harbor.
The work appears to be necessary, said Development Review and Permitting Director Ed Tudor.
The project will remove about 23,500 cubic feet of silty bay bottom that must then be disposed of on land somewhere in the near vicinity.
The Army Corps of Engineers, which will conduct the project, requires a dredge spoil site within 1.5 miles of the worksite, but the county, said Tudor, does not own any such site within that distance.
In general, the county has a difficult time finding sites for dredge spoil.
“We look at it all the time,” Tudor said.
The Army Corps requires a flat piece of upland that can handle the run-off from the underwater material for the dredge spoil.
“Why can’t we put it on the end of Assateague?” Commissioner Louise Gulyas wondered.
The silt content in the bay bottom is too high to dispose of on the sandy island, according to Assateague Island park officials, said Worcester County Natural Resource Administrator Chris McCabe.
Several spoil disposal options are being considered, Tudor said.
“The cheaper it is to get rid of it the deeper they can go,” said Tudor.
The possible dredge spoil sites Tudor has discussed with the Army Corps of Engineers would benefit the county and provide a place to dispose of the dredged material where it could be useful.
Options for dredge spoil disposal include the Ocean City airport, sending the silty-sand to the Worcester County Landfill to be used for cover material, taking the dredge spoil to the Maryland State Highway site in Bishopville for use in the Bishopville Pond project or wetland restoration work or adding it to Skimmer Island in Assawoman Bay. Skimmer Island is located north of the Route 50 bridge and has been deteriorating for several years as a result of tidal movement.
Tudor said staff is looking at dredge spoil disposal sites that are a win-win for the county and the Corps and expects to present a site in the near future.