Source: Ed Bierschenk / TCPalm.com
SEBASTIAN, Florida – As the waves of applause washed over George Koraly as his decades-long mission to remove muck from the St. Sebastian River came to fruition Wednesday, he tried to divert the attention to others he believed deserved recognition.
Crewman of SubAqueous Services, Inc. of Orlando ready a dredge in the C-54 Canal at the Indian River-Brevard County line just north of Sebastian in preparation for a dredging project to remove about 1.8 million cu yds of muck over the next several years from the St. Sebastian River in Indian River County.
(The dredge is an Ellicott® Series 970 built in 1985 with 14″ suction and 14″ discharge.)
He asked that a photo be taken of him wearing his Friends of the St. Sebastian River hat, acknowledging the group of local residents who have worked by his side over the years to get the dredging project under way. Most importantly, he believed, was acknowledgment of his late friend, Gordon Maltby, who went out in the river with him in the mid-1990s to manually measure the depth of the muck clogging the river.
State Rep. Stan Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, who championed the state funding for the $18.6 million project, said the project showed what a small group of determined citizens can accomplish.
“One man, a man like George, can make a difference,” said Mayfield at a ceremony Wednesday at Dale Wimbrow Park before the start of the dredging project.
The project ultimately is expected to remove about 1.8 million cubic yards of muck from the St. Sebastian River, including the C-54 Canal, which Koraly blames for the build-up of much of the muck in the river. The muck will be stored in a muck containment area south of Micco Road in south Brevard County.
Ralph Brown, left, project manager for the St. Johns River Water Management District’s dredging project, and Marty Smithson, administrator of the Sebastian Inlet District, look over the 100-acre much storage site in Micco from atop a levee.
According to St. Johns Deputy Executive Director Mike Slayton, removing the muck from the river is expected to recharge the seagrass beds that are vital to supporting the aquatic life in the river.
Subaqueous Services Inc., of Orlando, will begin dredging in the C-54 canal and work east to the Florida East Coast Railway Bridge. This first phase of the dredging project will continue until Nov. 30, when it will be suspended because of manatee restrictions, and resume the following April. This phase is expected to remove more than 600,000 cubic yards of muck from the river at a cost of $6.3 million, according to St. Johns Project Manager Ralph Brown.
The second phase of the project between the railroad bridge and the U.S. 1 bridge will take place between April 1, 2008, and Nov. 30, 2010, and result in the removal of the rest of the 1.2 million cubic yards of muck.
The project initially was expected to start in the main branch of the river, but the schedule changed when the bid for the project came in about $8 million higher than officials originally estimated. Brown cited rising construction costs and gas prices over the past few years for the increase.
By starting in the canal, closer to the muck containment area in Micco, St. Johns officials said they could remove more muck at a cheaper cost and give them more time to get additional state funding. Mayfield and other representatives since have been able to acquire the additional funding needed for the project, but officials plan to stick with the revised schedule.
July to Nov. 30: Dredging of more than 600,000 cubic yards of muck begins in C-54 Canal and moves east to Florida East Coast Railway Bridge.
April 1 to Nov. 30, 2007: Completion of dredging between canal and railroad bridge.
April 1, 2008, to Nov. 30, 2010: Dredging of up to 1.2 million cubic yards of sediment between the railroad bridge and the U.S. 1 bridge.
DREDGING THE RIVER
$18.6 million: Cost of the dredging project.
1.8 million: Total cubic yards of muck to be removed from the St. Sebastian River.
600,000: Cubic yards of muck removed from the river during the first phase.
Story Courtesy: TCPalm.com publication July 13, 2006 • Staff Writer: Ed Bierschenk • Photographer: Eric Hasert • Staff Artist: Jim Urick