Funds secured for Nanticoke River dredging

Sens. Tom Carper, Chris Coons and Rep. John Carney (all D-Del.) have announced $1,881,000 in funding for the dredging of the Nanticoke River. This funding will allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to move forward on its year-long plan to perform maintenance dredging on a stretch of the Nanticoke River extending from the Delaware-Maryland line up to Seaford. The river, which flows to the Chesapeake Bay, is a vital waterway for barge traffic into and out of western Sussex County.

The dredging project will restore the river's main channel depth to 12 feet, which has shoaled in some portions, making navigation difficult for barges. The river was last dredged in 1990.

The dredging project is essential to ensuring safe, efficient navigation for barges that transport grains, gravel and fuel along the Nanticoke. In April 2011, the Delaware Congressional Delegation wrote a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers to urge their assistance in expediting the dredging of the Nanticoke River.

"This is fantastic news for Sussex County, for our hard-working residents and for the local economy," said Sussex County Council President Michael H. Vincent. "This project has been long in coming, and now that the funding is falling into place thanks to the efforts of our Congressional Delegation and the Army Corps of Engineers, it will guarantee commerce continues to flow on the river for many, many years to come.

"In these critical economic times, it's important for all levels of government - county, state, and federal - to band together and work for the people they serve," Vincent added.

"This announcement shows that even when faced with funding shortfalls and project delays, we can accomplish great things if we press forward and work together."

In order for the federal project to progress, Sussex County, as the local government body, was obligated to provide a site for dredge material under an agreement with the Corps of Engineers. In May 2010, Sussex County purchased a 41-acre site near Woodland, west of Seaford, a portion of which will serve as a location to deposit mud that will be pulled from the bottom of the Nanticoke River during the four-month-long dredging project.

The dredging project is essential to ensuring safe, efficient navigation for barges that transport grains, gravel and fuel along the Nanticoke. According to figures from the Delmarva Water Transport Committee, more than 100 barges move along the Nanticoke each year. Each barge has a capacity equal to about 150 tractor trailers. In 2010, nearly 500,000 tons of product moved up the Nanticoke River, according to DWTC figures.

By moving forward with the dredging project, water-borne transport can continue - and presumably increase - on the river, lessening truck traffic and reducing wear and tear on local roads.

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