Fenwick Island to talk waterway dredging

Delaware’s waterways are important to those who use them, whether it’s the wide bays or the narrow-dug canals that snake through small towns.

But those small towns are trying to find the resources to keep the shallow waters well-dredged, to improve navigation and water flow.

The Town of Fenwick Island will host a dredging workshop on Friday, Aug. 18, at 3 p.m. They have invited Tony Pratt of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources (DNREC) to discuss the State’s plans and the Town’s options.

After the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it would no longer give federal money to maintain the smaller waterways, Delaware doubled its boating registration fees in 2017 to make up for that loss of funding for dredging, channel marking and other maintenance.

Fenwick officials are hoping to learn more about the State’s priority list and timeline, especially in regard to local canals and Little Assawoman Bay.

“The dredging meeting is really important,” said Councilwoman Vicki Carmean, who encouraged citizens to come prepared to ask tough questions. “DNREC really put the Little Assawoman Bay at the bottom of the [priority] list. … They’re talking about dredging their tributaries and streams, but I don’t know how much good that does if you’re getting out to the bay and getting stuck in mud.”

“Anybody that’s been out in the bay know how bad it’s gotten,” said Mayor Gene Langan. “I have some satellite photos of the bay. You can see the sand. It’s unbelievable. So those are the types of things we need to talk to Tony about.”

In contrast, nearby Seal Island is nearly completely underwater, though it was once a landing spot for boaters.

“If we can use [dredging] spoils on Seal Island, it might go quicker for us,” Langan said.