A project that will dredge water along two major waterways in the Ocean View area has been delayed and will not be completed before the boating season.
DNREC announced the contractor ResilientSeas, LLC is behind schedule to dredge portions of White Creek and the Assawoman Canal due to a four-week delay, and will not be able to meet the March 31 cutoff before work needs to be concluded to protect hibernating terrapins.
"“All dredging permits require that this Department work within windows that are protective of marine wildlife, and adhering to and abiding by those restrictions is incumbent upon us as a natural resource and environmental agency,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin in a statement.
“But let me be clear: DNREC would not be bringing this project to a halt for at least the next six months had the contractor not failed to get it under way in time to complete it. DNREC is not in this position for lack of a timetable being written into the contract, or for lack of our following up with the contractor to let them know that they were not meeting contractual obligations.”
ResilientSeas CEO Chad Sumner told WBOC his company was not properly aware of the work windows.
"I thought was unfair to see that press release come out the way that it did. It is where we are, and we are all working to get as much as we can get done, be protective of the environment, and finish the job next cycle if we have do."
Ocean View Marina owner Tom Fowler, whose business sits at the mouth of the Assawoman Canal, told WBOC he was disappointed that another summer will go by with boaters having to be cautious around getting stuck at lower tides on the two waterways.
"Our hopes were up that the whole project would be done and we would not have to worry about shallow areas, but now it looks like we'll have to wait another boating season."
The $4.685 million project is expected to take a total of three months, with Sussex County Council contributing $1 million towards the work.
Some work has been completed, including the intersection of White Creek and Assawoman Canal. The contractor is currently working is planning to work on the western and then eastern prongs of White Creek over the next three weeks before the cutoff.
White Creek was last dredged between 1997-2001, while the Assawoman Canal's last deepening project ended in 2015.
This project will remove 55,000-70,000 cubic yards of sediment, which will allow for deeper water for boats, which can struggle to navigate the waters during low, or even slack, tide.