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Silt Happens

Anne Arundel invests $1.5 million in dredging it from our waterways

No matter how willing your spirit or ready your boat, you’ve got to have a clear channel to get back to the water.
    Water flows downhill, carrying all it can find, including sediment that chokes waterways and undermines water quality.
    Removing silt and sediment is a heavy-duty dredging job requiring heavy equipment, some place to put the dredge spoils and lots of money.
    The money comes first.
    So County Executive Steve Schuh’s announcement that Anne Arundel County is investing $1.5 million in an “enhanced” waterway dredging program was a big deal, noted at a site overlooking the county’s just finished dredging of Rockhold and Tracys creeks.
    “Our waterways are the life blood of South County,” Schuh said on a visit to Shipwright Harbor Marina. “Our enhanced dredging program will ensure our wetlands remain vibrant and our marina businesses flourish.”
    Dredging Rockhold Creek and Tracy’s Creek cost more than $1.1 million, spilt between county and state.
    Maryland Department of Natural Resources offers grants through the state’s Waterway Improvement Fund. Boaters are the source of these funds, paying a five percent excise tax to purchase or title a boat in Maryland.
    Thus waterway improvement funding falls and rises with the economic tide. Even in a rising tide, there’s never as much money as there is need.
    “We’ve had $22 million in applications for all project types statewide lately, while we’ve typically had $10.5 to provide,” says DNR’s Carla Fleming.
    For what Schuh calls “the largest dredging capital investment in county history,” Anne Arundel County found $1.5 million by refinancing bonds over 30 years through the 2015 capital project financing program called JumpStart Anne Arundel.
    More than 15,000 cubic yards of sediment was removed from Rockhold and Tracys Creeks and trucked to the county’s new dredge materials placement site on Sudley Road near the county recycling and convenience center.
    Dredging Parker Creek in South County and Cockey Creek in North County is expected to begin this fall. Next year’s funding and subsequent dredging cycle is expected to include Southern Anne Arundel’s Broadwater Creek and Carrs Creek.