Waterways Commission hears reports on channels, shoaling

Published 10:19 pm Friday, July 22, 2022

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Hatteras Inlet has been navigable for the early summer.

Steve Coulter, chairman of the Dare County Waterways Commission, reported no incidents during the Marlin Club’s off-shore fishing tournament.

The realignment of Rollinson Channel is progressing. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported that cultural resources data gathering has been completed. Results are now with a marine archaeologist for analysis.

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Once the cultural resource report is available, the Corps will recirculate the revised application for agency comments. The revised application expands the corridor to include the connector channel.

About the connector channel, Coulter said a few spots were starting to shoal, but as long as boats keep using the channel, that should keep shoaling under control.

Once the realignment is accomplished, the entire channel would be under federal authority, instead of the current mishmash of jurisdictions holding dredging permits.

The Corps reported that the dredge Merritt would be returning to Hatteras Inlet in a couple of weeks to maintain the Hatteras ferry channel.

During public comment, Woody Joyner, president of North Carolina Watermen United, inquired about the determining factors for the dredge Miss Katie to work in Hatteras Inlet.

Coulter responded that the dredge will be managed by the Oregon Inlet Task Force, which will determine where the dredge goes and when.

Coulter said he has been assured that “when we need it in Hatteras, it will be available to us.” He has not yet received notice about any formal procedure.

Dare commissioner Danny Couch said the Miss Katie will undergo sea trials starting July 18 and anticipates leaving Louisiana on July 21. He reported that the trip will take 10 to 14 days to reach Dare County. He estimated the Miss Katie will be available to work early in August.

Couch also reported that the Oregon Inlet Task Force wants to meet with the Waterways Commission and urged the commission to take advantage of that request. Couch said it would be an opportunity to pursue a dredging schedule for Hatteras Inlet.

Regarding Oregon Inlet, the Corps is looking at an alternate route. The U.S. Coast Guard issued a letter that the shoaling is impacting operations as one of its vessels ran aground. The Corps is seeking an emergency authorization to dredge the alternate route.

As to the emergency ferry route into Rodanthe, this spring the depth was at six feet. At the other side of Pamlico Sound, Stumpy Point will be dredged next year.

For Avon Harbor, the search for dredge disposal sites is underway.

Coulter asked about surveying Rollinson Channel proper since the last survey was done in March 2021. The Corps reported that Steven Shriver, supervisor of survey operations, had retired June 30, 2022.

Coulter twice issued thanks to Shriver for all his work for the Waterways Commission and wished him luck in his retirement.