Summary of Port, Waterway & Beach Commission Meeting

The Port, Waterway & Beach Commission met on February 10th to discuss a wide variety of topics affecting our area and CBIA association.

Topics discussed included:

Mason Inlet Relocation Project (MIRP)

• The maintenance event is underway with an estimated project completion of 20%.  Shallow Draft Inlet (SDI-5) Permitting

• The Biological Assessment is under formal consultation by the USFWS with a Biological Opinion anticipated in the March/April timeframe.

• Draft reasonable and prudent measures/terms and conditions have been evaluated by the SDI-5 contractor.

Carolina Beach CSDR Project, Beach Renourishment Evaluation Report (BRER).

• A stakeholders meeting was held on January 25th.

• The USACE awaits BRER funding from either the President’s FY17 Budget or the USACE’s FY16 workplan.

And more!

Why Do We Need Dredging?

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One reason we need dredging in NC is because North Carolina has a variety of inlets that are critical to coastal commerce and coastal highways such as Commercial traffic at NC Ports/ Commercial fisherman/Charter fisherman/Recreation & tourisms. Dredging and maintenance is the only way to keep these inlets open to support NC’s economy.

The authorized depths for these inlets are 15 feet or less in shallow draft inlets in NC, but the deep draft inlets that need greater depths than 15 feet are located in Wilmington and Morehead City and dredging is necessary due to rapid shoaling in historical areas. Other areas that need dredging but are not Federally Authorized are Ferry Channels which are maintained by NC DOT. The DENR “passed through” money from DOT to Corps which connected the channels from federal inlets to ferry channels covered under the Shallow Draft MOA.

When the inlets were “federally authorized” the feds maintained the inlets through dredging if funding was available. “NC used to receive substantial federal funding to maintain shallow draft and deep draft inlets” http://www.ncleg.net/documentsites/committees/JointAppropriationsTransportation/2015_

Session/3.18.15/2.Dredging%20in%20North%20Carolina_03.18.2015.pdf.   Federal funding has declined in recent years that supplemented for both Deep Draft & Shallow Draft Channels with state funds.

Dredging in North Carolina

 

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There is so much shoaling on the North Carolina shores and the Hatteras and Oregon Inlets are one of the main focuses on the east coast. In order to dredge the inlets so it would be cost efficient and sediment is properly relocated, the Giant Dutch Hopper needs to be used. The Oregon Inlet can be cleaned out within weeks with the Congo River Dutch that has a 40,000 cubic meter capacity vessel. The spoils from the dredge can be a supplement to the South Nags Head beach restoration project as the new sediment are moved in by prevailing tides southward and inshore. Many have laughed at the Dredge Merritt and considered it a waste of time and a waste of hard earned federal tax money. Many have also suggested the Federal Government is the problem, when the US Army of Corps use federal tax money to pay for something that will take longer, do less work, and cost too much money when in reality, they could have used the Giant Dutch Hopper Dredge from the beginning and finish the dredge faster and more efficient. “The Congo River Hopper Dredge would be so effective that no granite rip rap north jetty would be needed. Saving hundreds of millions of dollars. And Congo River type massive dredging project would not have to be repeated for years, perhaps decades.” http://cruisersnet.net/an-argument-for-dredging-north-carolinas-oregon-inlet/ .

Congressman Walter Jones and elected representatives should petition the central government to only use the US built Hopper Dredges because many believe that the US Corps of Engineers have been using tiny, inefficient dredging equipment that cost more and does a less sufficient job.

 

Wilmington Harbor 96 Act project

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In 1829, the Federal government assumed responsibilities of navigational improvement that had recently been performed by the State of North Carolina. The channels depths and widths were increased so larger ships could deliver cargo to the ports without having to carry lighter loads or wait for high tides. When large vessels had to wait for high tide, this incurred operating cost for these delays.

The improvement plan was a combined project with the Water Resources Development Act of 1996 and the Fiscal Year 1998 Appropriations Act which was referred to as the Wilmington Harbor 96 Act project and this project provided an authorized navigation depth of the entire channel from Wilmington to the ocean. The depth of the entrance extended from Baldhead Shoal Channel to Battery Island Channel. “The authorized channel widths would remain at 500 feet from the ocean upstream through Battery Island Channel and the 400 feet upstream to the Hilton Railroad Bridge, except that specific portions of the project would undergo widening.”  http://www.saw.usace.army.mil/Portals/59/docs/navigation/Dredging/Projects/Appendix%20H%20EA%20SMP%20(2000)%20June%202014.pdf. This plan would deepen the ocean bar channel along its current alignment and extend present length to 9.3 miles from the inlet. When the channel was deepened and widened, large vessels could transport cargo easily and more economically.

Dredging is needed worldwide

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Dredging is not only needed in the Carolina Beach waterway, but it is needed throughout every coastline that has an economic impact on our country as well as other countries. Dredging offers safe navigation within the waterways at every port for recreational and commercial vessels. There is a need for deeper channels for vessels which transport cargo to and from ports with fuel, oil, and other necessary products for commercial use within different countries. “This is an important asset for the Egyptian economy, aimed at generating new shipping activity and attracting new industrial activities.” http://www.dredgingtoday.com/2015/08/03/deme-at-new-suez-opening-ceremony/.

With the widening and deepening of the Suez Canal which has been the fourth time since WWII, has optimized a major artery of the Egyptian economy. The DEME was awarded a contract value of $540 million in October 2014 whereas an additional 250 – meter-wide, 24 – meter – deep, and 29.5 – kilometer – long fairway through the Great Bitter Lake and widened to 140 meters.  Dredging is needed at every port which has an economic impact on all countries. As dredging is needed for every port around the United States, dredging is also needed in other countries around the world.

The Army Corps of Engineer’s next project: To clear sand from Carolina Beach Inlet

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As of Sept. 15, a state-of-the-art dredging vessel based in Wilmington returned home from Florida and its next project is to deepen the Carolina Beach Inlet. This is crucial for the economy and safe travel for commercial and recreational boater throughout the waterways. Though Murton will only have three days to dredge before heading to Morehead City and the Outer Banks, Barry Stull, a crew member said they will give them their best while there. The Murden will only be able to dredge 8 to 10 feet, but this will definitely improve navigation throughout the channels.

The crew aboard the Murden will have to take into consideration that in order to access the inlet’s mouth, they will have to dredge during low tide heading north through the Intercostal Waterway and the Masonboro Inlet. “The crew of as many as seven can come from all parts of the country and travel with the ship when on duty.” http://luminanews.com/2015/09/army-corps-dredge-clears-sand-from-carolina-beach-inlet/. Even though the Murden has propellers which can be rotated, raised or lowered, steering the dredge vessel can still be challenging. The Army Corps of Engineers are on a mission and that mission is to make navigation throughout the waterways safe for commercial and recreational vessels.

Navigation Waterways

In the Wilmington District, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are responsible for 300 miles of federal navigation projects along the North Carolina coast that extend from Norfolk, Virginia to Little River, South Carolina. Wilmington Harbor and Morehead City Harbor are the largest navigation projects which have 600 vessels that have 6,500,000 tons of storage areas for containers and cargo. “The Navigation mission is to provide safe, reliable, efficient, effective, and environmentally sustainable waterborne transportation systems (i.e. channels, harbors, and waterways) for movement of commerce, national security needs and recreation.” http://www.saw.usace.army.mil/Missions/Navigation.aspx.

Their responsibilities include planning and constructing new channels, ports, and maintain the depths of these channels, ports, and harbors through inlet dredging. These programs are vital to the nation’s economy and the Corps responsibilities are to keep these transportation system navigable because they are viewed as key elements to the State and local government for job creation and economic development for competitiveness and national security. In order to ensure proper funding for inlet dredging remains available, the government has to view inlet dredging of these harbors and ports as a vital necessity for the nation’s economy or government funding could be completely cut out of the budge.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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The U.S Army Corps of Engineers provides a variety of services which ensures our nation has a defense mechanism that enhances the capabilities of the military and the economy. Water resources at the beginning of the 20th century was a national problem because of neglected waterways, hydropower, and irrigation. In the west, there was a dire need for irrigation for agricultural. In the east, the construction of hydroelectric dams were needed to provide electricity. These dams effected the waterways by proliferating a rapid production of streams and channels which threatened navigation so inlet dredging became a necessary function provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The federal government realized that power station infrastructures were necessary after severe flooding occurred along the Mississippi River. “Between 250 and 500 people were killed, over 16 million acres were flooded, and over 500,000 people were forced from their homes to refugee camps.” http://www.usace.army.mil/About/History/BriefHistoryoftheCorps/MultipurposeWaterwayD

evelopment.aspx. With that said, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers performs many services related to the waterways around the United States.They ensure our nation’s military and economical infrastructures can promote cost-efficient electricity, irrigation, and navigational means for delivering goods and services around our nation and abroad.