Fenwick Funds Bay Soil Study Ahead Of Eventual Dredging

FENWICK ISLAND – A geotechnical study is expected to further Fenwick Island’s efforts to secure a dredging project in the Little Assawoman Bay.

Last Friday, the Fenwick Island Town Council unanimously approved a request from the town’s Dredging Committee to fund a geotechnical study of the Little Assawoman Bay.

Councilman Bernie Merritt, chair of the committee, told the council the study would collect and analyze soil samples from six spots to determine the composition along the bottom of the bay. He said the study would allow local, state and federal officials to understand what’s in the soil and where the removed soil could be deposited if a dredging project begins.

“What this allows us to start to do is work with DNREC (Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control) and the Army Corps of Engineers …,” he said.

John D. Hynes and Associates representative Jason Lindsey said his company would have the soils tested for heavy metals, pesticides, chlorinated herbicides and more.

“We’re going to take them back to a laboratory and visually classify them …,” he said. “Then we are going to take a little bit of each sampling and combine it into a composite sample and send that off to the lab for chemical testing.”

Merritt said the study would focus on soil composition at the south end of Little Assawoman Bay. The study, he said, would not include the town’s canals.

“We are prioritizing the south end, but we are not eliminating the north end,” he said.

Councilwoman Vicki Carmean applauded the study.

“I think this is a great first step,” she said. “We have to start somewhere.”

Councilman Roy Williams agreed.

“I’ve been against some of this because DNREC has not stepped up and said, ‘yes, we are going to dredge these waterways,’” he said, “but I do agree this would be the first step and then we’ll see what everybody commits to moving forward.”

The council voted 6-0, with Councilwoman Julie Lee absent, to approve the funding request for a geotechnical study.

In a separate interview, Merritt said the study would cost the town $5,080. He added the study would show state and federal officials Fenwick Island was “serious” about securing a dredging project in the Little Assawoman Bay.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.