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Norwalk Harbor Dredging Studied

The Norwalk,Connecticut Harbor Management Commission (NHMC) said January 29 that it will study the planned third phase of Norwalk Harbor dredging, set to begin in October, long and hard to get the best result from limited federal dredging dollars, according to The Hour Online, a local news source.

Norwalk Harbor was last fully dredged in 1981. Planning for the current dredging effort began in 1994, Pinto said.

“It's 150,000 cubic yards that needs to be dredged to bring the harbor to its authorized depth, from the Stroffolino Bridge out to the mouth of the Norwalk Harbor. Norwalk only has federal dollars to do 80,000 cubic yards,” said John T. Pinto, chairman of the NHMC Dredging Committee.

"We're going to take 80,000 cubic yards out and get our best bang for the buck.” Pinto said NHMC members will determine what areas of the channel are in greatest need of being dredged to the authorized 12-foot depth.

Phase Two will remove material from the Stroffolino Bridge to the mouth of the harbor, but only down to about nine feet, according to the NHMC.

For Phase Three, officials had hoped to secure funding to dredge 150,000 cubic yards from the outer harbor. That would require at least $6.6 million in funding, according to Pinto. He doubts more federal funding will be forthcoming, but has sought state funding.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will put Phase Three out to bid in June. Pinto said the Corps will pair Phase Three with the dredging of New Haven Harbor, and put both projects on track to begin October 1, 2013. Material dredged from Norwalk Harbor will be deposited into central Long Island Sound off New Haven and be capped with material dredged from New Haven Harbor, Pinto said.

Michigan To Pay For Dredging

In the face of a Great Lakes dredging crisis and declining federal dredging dollars, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder released his proposed budget February 20 for fiscal year 2014, which begins October 1, 2013. Included is $21 million for dredging harbors.

The Michigan Boating Industries Association commended Snyder for his recognition of the record low water crisis, as he called on the legislature to pass the budget quickly.

The $21 million for dredging would come from two sources: $11.5 million from general fund spending and $9.4 million in redirected funds from existing projects from the Waterways Fund. Additionally, legislation is being drafted that may produce other funding sources for dredging.

“As Michigan is facing historically low water levels, we are pleased to see government working together at all levels,” MBIA said in a press release. “These efforts include researching funding sources for dredging, improving the dredging permitting process to include a more timely permit application turnaround, decreasing costs associated with dredging and an expanded window for dredging cycles, to name a few.”

MBIA said Michigan ranks as one of the top states in the nation in registered watercraft. Recreational boating alone brings a $3.9 billion economic impact to the state, and government recognizes that dredging is “directly linked to the success of Michigan’s economy, its water-related businesses and the lifestyle of its citizens,” MBIA said. “The economic benefits tied to the investment in dredging needs cannot be overstated.”

Of Michigan’s 56 harbors and channels that the federal government is responsible for maintaining, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to dredge only six this year: Detroit, Saginaw, Manistee, Muskegon, Grand Haven and Holland. The Corps gives priority to large and medium-sized ports used by commercial vessels. Smaller harbors where the traffic is mostly or entirely recreational “are considered a lower priority under the constrained funding we have now,” said Dave Wright, the Detroit Engineer District’s chief of operations.

Snyder’s proposal would take $11 million from a fund overseen by the Michigan State Waterways Commission that comes mostly from motor fuel taxes and supports improvements to marine infrastructure such as breakwalls and boat ramps. Diverting money for dredging would cause some of those projects to be delayed, Allan said.

“We recognize that can be tough on communities,” he said. “But we also recognize that we need to get boats on the water.”

Algoma Dredging Complete—For Now

Mike Cole and his crews at Iron Works Construction finished dredging about 15,000 cubic yards of material from the Algoma, Wisconsin marina, he told Fox News 11 on February 11.

“So we actually never had a delay from the weather. We worked through every day that we could,” said Cole before to Bailey’s Harbor in Door County, where his company is headquartered.

Dredging started in mid-December, and the marina is now at a depth of about seven feet. But even that depends on where the lake's water levels are each day. Lake Michigan's low water levels and sediment buildup caused the city of Algoma to dredge its marina again.

Between this project and a 2010 dredging, the city of Algoma has spent more than half a million dollars to ensure that its marina remains navigable. Lentz says the dredging is vital to ensure that tourism and fishing industry continue in the city with a population of a little more than 3,100.

"The people that come over here to fish, they're going to fish,” said Mark Lentz, Algoma’s public works director. “They're going to find someplace to get their vessels in Lake Michigan. And if they can't do it in Algoma, they're going to go somewhere else."

Lentz said the city is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to find a solution to the continued sediment deposits.

"We know there's sediment in the marina. We know there's sediment in the river, the Ahnapee River,” said Lentz. “What we don't know is where is the bulk of it coming from?” He admitted that fixing the problem is probably going to cost a lot of money.

The Corps says it expects the lake's water levels to continue to drop. Last month, Lakes Michigan and Huron reached their lowest levels since records started in 1918. The ongoing drought, low snowfall and higher temperatures and evaporation over the past 10 years have all contributed.

Newport Beach Salt Marsh Dredging Begins

Contractors for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have begun dredging sediment from the Santa Ana River Marsh in Newport Beach, California, the city reported in a February 6 project update on its website.

The Los Angeles Engineer District hired a contractor to remove sediment along the channels in the Santa Ana River Marsh. The project will restore design channel depths to improve circulation and tidal flushing – both necessary to maintain the salt marsh habitat, which includes many endangered species. The project was expected to be completed by the end of March.

The Corps' project includes a beach sand replenishment component. Good quality sand will be pumped through a pipeline to the nearshore, located 1,000 feet offshore from 60th Street. The sands were thoroughly tested and approved by EPA for placement in the nearshore environment.

Area residents and beach visitors will see that a temporary pipeline is in place and runs from the marsh parallel to the Santa Ana River, then down along the beach and through the surf zone to the approved nearshore disposal location.

Sand pumping began February 11 and was due to continue for about two weeks. The temporary pipe was due to be removed during the week of February 25.

Sediment not compatible for beach replenishment was to be disposed of at an upland landfill. The California least tern island within the marsh will also be cleared of weedy vegetation to improve the nesting habitat of this endangered species.

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