Canal Dredging Plan Outlined

OCEAN CITY – The federal
Army Corps of Engineers is moving forward with a plan to dredge several canals
in Ocean City, but with no funding source for the project, it remains uncertain
when work will begin.

Residents along the
canals included in phase I of the resort’s long awaited maintenance dredging
plan last week received an inches-thick report from the Army Corps of
Engineers, outlining many aspects of the proposal including the requisite
environmental impact statements and disposal plans. What was not included,
however, was timetable for the massive dredging project, which will cover over
18 acres of canal in the resort and remove over 49,000 cubic yards of material.

“Currently, there is no
funding source, so the timetable is up in the air,” said City Engineer Terry
McGean. “Once the permit is received, it is good for three years, however.”

The long-range plan
calls for systematic maintenance dredging for the vast network of canals from
one end of the resort to the other. The first phase includes dredging
designated canals from 24th Street north to 143rd Street
to a depth of four feet below mean low water.

When the first phase is
completed, roughly 49,000 cubic yards of dredged material, primarily made up of
sand and silt deposited from other areas over time with the changing tides and
natural migrations of the barrier island system, will have to be disposed of in
other areas around the resort.

Most recently, material
dredged from the navigation channel in the bay was pumped over land and under
Coastal Highway before being deposited on the beach at 32nd Street.
Some of the material dredged from the canals in the first phase of the Corps’
plan could also end up on the beach, depending on its quality.

“The disposal plan
includes three areas depending on the quality of the material,” he said. “The
very best material will be deposited on the beach. Material with some silt or
organics could be disposed of in the lagoon at Northside Park, which is the primary
disposal site.”

Not all of the dredged
material will be suitable for the beach, or even the Northside Park lagoon, and
might have to be disposed of elsewhere, according to McGean.

“Tests have not shown
any, but the material will be monitored as it is dug and it will be disposed of
as required,” he said.

Having done its due
diligence in terms of potential environmental impacts and dredge spoil disposal
plans, the Army Corps’ is currently accepting public comment on the proposal.