Survey says: DNREC wants to know where to dredge

With just a three-minute online survey, people can share their inland bays priorities with the Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control (DNREC).

Money is tight, but demand is high for dredging projects in the Delaware inland bays. With the public’s help, the Division of Watershed Stewardship is creating a list of criteria that can be used to measure and prioritize proposed dredging projects.

The survey will help staff understand how the channels are being used, and how important each activity is to people.

“Once this data is collected, the public’s answers from the survey will provide recommendations on how to weigh the data to prioritize dredging projects,” said DNREC spokesperson Michael Globetti.

The SurveyMonkey website is publically accessible, and the questions should only require a few minutes to complete.

“The deadline is the early fall of 2019,” said Globetti. “The survey deadline is designed to capture responses during the heightened recreational activity … of the summer months. The survey currently has 230 responses.”

DWS staff want to know how people use the bays: boating, fishing, crabbing, sailing, kayaking and other types of work or recreation.

People are being asked to rank importance of features such as ramps, marinas, dredging materials, economics, safety navigability, dredging history and connectivity to the bays.

Finally, people can share broader thoughts: “Why are the Inland Bays important to you? And what else DNREC should consider in planning these projects?”

Of course, people can check up to 17 creeks, channels or bays where they boat, including Vines Creek, White Creek, the Assawoman Canal, Indian River Bay and even the Fenwick Island “Ditch.”

The public survey, titled “Developing a Methodology for Prioritizing Dredging Projects in Delaware’s Inland Bays,” is online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CFN5TCQ.

“With increased demands on resources and decreased federal funding available, the DWS is working to cultivate a data-based approach for prioritizing dredging projects to ensure that navigational channels are kept open and safe. [Public input] is crucial in achieving this goal,” according to the division.

Slated for this autumn, the Massey’s Ditch Channel Maintenance Dredging Project will cost about $3.6 million. J.F. Brennan Inc. of La Crosse, Wisc., is expected to begin mobilizing equipment to the project site in October and begin dredging in November. They have until March 1, 2020, based on state and federal permits.

In 2016, the Delaware General Assembly increased fees to create a “lock-box” waterway maintenance fund, through Senate Bill 261.

“DNREC currently has approximately $2.7 million in the Waterway Management Fund. Of that amount, $1.3 million has been committed to the Massey’s Ditch dredging project,” which is DNREC’s annual spending authority for that fund, Globetti said.

 

By Laura Walter

Staff Reporter