30 August 1995
Source: The SandPaper, New Jersey
As the hopper dredge "Currituck" chomps away at what nature keeps depositing in Barnegat Inlet, New Jersey, USA, the Loveladies beachfront in Long Beach Township is again the benefactor this year.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' dredge finished its 65-day summer stint. It scooped 100,000 cubic yards of sand to clear the way for commercial and recreational fleets, a task it performs twice a year. Some 20,000 cubic yards of that sand were dropped just offshore at Loveladies Beach.
As a result, said township Commissioner Frank T. Pescatore, the beaches there "are the best I've seen them in years."
Hurricane Felix left large sand berms so close to the beach that "some people called and asked if we were building mounds of sand for some reason." And the dredging helped also, Pescatore said.
"It has helped quite a bit because there's a large hole off of the Pyramid House. That looks to me like it's getting filled up pretty well," Pescatore said. "There's no sense dumping it someplace else, because where you need it is where the holes are." Pescatore went on to note that some fishermen might not be as pleased as property owners. "That hole was a good fishing spot."
Owners of the big commercial boats, though, have no complaints. John Larson, a co-owner of Viking Village docks who also owns the party boat Miss Barnegat Light and commercial fishing boats Kathy Ann, Karen L, Lori L, F. Nelson Blount, Grand Larson and Lindsey L, labeled the condition of the inlet "great." The 90-foot scalloper Kathy Ann draws 12 feet of water and needs the 16-foot average depth the "Currituck" maintains through the inlet.
"With that dredge and that rock pile and the way the government's been treating us, it's great," he said. "The inlet's great, so the commerce coming in and out of here is great." The "rock pile" is Larson's nickname for the $41 million new South Jetty, completed in 1991.
Some might question why the $800,000 per year dredging is needed at all, with a new jetty in place. But regular maintenance dredging was the plan all along, according to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Rich Chlan.
"The total 150,000 cubic yards removed per year is about the same as before the jetty was built, but the difference is that they're getting more depth out of the jetty now," he said.
The dredge is contracted to maintain a depth of at least 12 feet, whereas before the new jetty was built, the inlet was dredged to a depth of 10 feet, according to Chlan.
The dredging, a total of four months' work, is scheduled to continue annually. The 150 ft. (45.7m) long "Currituck" was designed and built by Ellicott® International of Baltimore, MD back in 1974. Twenty-three years later, the dredge still works reliably.
"The dredging will always be needed," Chlan said, "because if you don't continue to dredge, eventually it would all fill in, and you'd go right back to that same situation of unsafe conditions."
The Inlet From a Dredger's View
Every time "Currituck" Capt. Ed Evans comes to town, he finds an accumulation to scoop up with his split-hulled hopper dredge. But the channel "seems to be holding up better this year," he said.
"It does fill in again real fast. But, to me, it doesn't seem like it's as bad as it used to be."
But at least this year, a persistent shoal at the end of the North Jetty doesn't seem to be forming. Evans pointed to a soundings chart. "Since they put the South Jetty in, big boats have been able to go and come right there at the end of the North Jetty. On this old chart showing the shoal that was there, it's not there anymore; the end of the North Jetty stays open. And the channel that we dredge stays open better."
Material that is not carried to Loveladies Beach is deposited just south of the new South Jetty, where, according to Corps engineers, it drifts southward toward Barnegat Light and, eventually, Loveladies Beach. "If you talk to the folks that are supposed to know, the sand is generally moving this way anyway...and if you put (dredged sand) in less than 15 feet of water, it'll start marching down the beach," said Evans.
The old South Jetty, now partly submerged, is slowly being filled in with sand that lies between it and the new South Jetty.
"What they really wanted us to do is try to get it over here as close to this old jetty as possible and fill that all in with sand," Evans said. "People with those little jet boats were coming in here and not seeing those rocks. What it's doing is working its way down the beach."
Reprinted from The SandPaper, New Jersey