Wrightsville’s beach nourishment project could start sooner than expected, with Ocean Isle getting an early start date on its project.
“I was told that Weeks [Marine] is planning to bring a second dredge to start the Ocean Isle project the first of March. It then goes to Wrightsville,” said Layton Bedsole, the shore protection coordinator for New Hanover County, during the Feb. 20 meeting of the county’s Port, Waterway and Beach Commission.
Bedsole said he has not yet heard whether that will impact Weeks Marine’s schedule for placing sand on Wrightsville Beach.
The last schedule released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, sent via email by project manager Bob Keistler on Jan. 13, shows the dredge arriving from Morehead City by March 23, and the project wrapping up by April 27, three days short of the permit deadline.
Ocean Isle’s nourishment project was scheduled to begin March 22, but town administrator Daisy Ivey confirmed Feb. 25 the dredge had already arrived and the company expected to begin pumping sand on its beach as early as Feb. 28.
While both Bedsole and Keistler have stated in previous interviews an extension of the April 30 deadline for Wrightsville Beach may be possible if state and federal natural resource agencies agree, Bedsole said Feb. 20 the corps would not likely initiate those talks until the need is clear.
Keistler did not return requests for comment before press time.
Shallow-draft inlet dredging
After the county approved up to $75,000 from the Room Occupancy Tax fund to obtain a permit for Carolina Beach Inlet to be dredged using local dollars, only half that amount may be withdrawn from the sand fund.
During the meeting, Bedsole received word from three other participants, representing Shallotte, Lockwood Folly and Bogue inlets, saying they would likely help pay the cost of obtaining the general permit.
If successful, the permit will allow localities to partner with the state to fund dredging of those inlets, for which only the corps currently holds a permit. With federal funding for the projects disappearing, local municipalities are looking for an alternative way to keep the waterways open.
“Our share would be about $37,500, which is, from a permitting standpoint, including geotechnical work, habitat assessment [and a] biological assessment, the whole nine yards, that is a bargain,” Bedsole said.
He added any funds not used for contractors’ services go back into the ROT fund.