From an Island Free Press report.
The Dare County Waterways Commission discussed during its meeting Monday projects to dredge Hatteras Harbor and Avon Harbor, but the path to complete both has several challenges.
The Waterways Commission recently requested the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers address Hatteras Harbor shoaling that is beginning to impede vessels that regularly travel through the waterbody, including the U.S. Coast Guard, which uses the harbor during search and rescue cases, about 40 local charter vessels and additional transient vessels.
Dare County has $217,000 remaining for Hatteras Connector Channel dredging projects that should cover the cost for the Corps’ dredge Murden to address the shoaling. The county-managed dredge Miss Katie would need special permitting and permission to dredge the harbor, which could take up to six months.
The Dare County Board of Commissioners June 6 requested a survey of the Hatteras Harbor expected to be complete this week. The hope is that after the survey is ready, the Coast Guard can partner with the Corps on the emergency dredging request to make the project a priority.
Commission members decided to wait until the survey of the Hatteras Harbor area was complete to decide on next steps.
The Corps has allocated $1.6 million in funds to dredge Avon Harbor and the adjacent channel. The dredging is expected to deepen Avon Harbor and the first mile of the channel to 6 feet, Barton Grover, Dare County grants and waterways administrator, said at Monday’s meeting.
Because there is no clear disposal site for dredge material close to Avon Harbor, Dare County, the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the National Park Service and other agencies planned earlier this year to move the material to the soundside beaches between Avon and Buxton.
The sand was tested this spring to make sure it was safe for public use. Results indicate that the sand exceeded safety limits for certain contaminants.
Grover said they’re working with NCDOT and the park service to see if there are other locations to deposit the material, “because based on those results, we’re not going to put the harbor material on a publicly used beach.”
Grover added that the channel material test results came out well, and this material could likely be used to bolster public beaches.
As for the current channels in Hatteras Inlet, Chairman Steve “Creature” Coulter noted that vessels were not having an issue getting through the inlet since the channel was dredged this spring by Miss Katie and the Corps.
“It’s holding pretty well, and the connecting channel is still good,” said Coulter. “It could always use a little maintenance on the entrance coming out of Sloop into the connecting channel, but it’s holding up pretty well.”
The next Dare County Waterways Commission meeting is at 7 p.m. July 10 in Manteo.
This story is provided courtesy of the Island Free Press, a digital newspaper covering Hatteras and Ocracoke islands. Coastal Review is partnering with the Free Press to provide readers with more environmental and lifestyle stories of interest along our coast.