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Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : Assawoman Canal Dredging Project

 
History of the Assawoman Canal Dredging Project

 

September 1984 – Public meeting held at Bethany Beach Fire Company to determine public interest in possible canal dredging project.

October 1984 - June 1990 – DelDOT constructs three new bridges over canal allowing for increased vertical clearance to accommodate envisioned future dredging of waterway.

July 1990 – First Bond Bill appropriation for the project from the General Assembly in the amount of $50,000.

August 1990 – Division of Parks and Recreation obtains deed for the Canal and lands immediately adjacent to the waterway for the National Parks Service through the Federal Surplus Property Program.

July 1992 – Second Bond Bill appropriation for the project from the General Assembly in the amount of $100,000.

April 1994 – State permit application submitted to Wetlands and Subaqueous Lands Section requesting approval to dredge the entire length of the Canal with an excavator working from the banks with truck haul disposal.

August 1994 – A Public Hearing was held at the Bethany Beach Fire Company in response to requests made while the State application was on public notice.

April 1995 – Submission of first Federal permit application to the Corps of Engineers.

August 1995 – State permit issued to dredge the Canal. Corps application temporarily withdrawn due to concerns raised during public notice period.

July 1996 – Federal and State regulatory personnel meet to discuss concerns over proposed project.  Loss of habitat or loss of overhanging canopy major issue.  Project plans revised – north end from White Creek to Route 26 Bridge to be done mechanically, south end from Route 26 Bridge to Little Assawoman Bay to be done hydraulically with State owned dredge.

November 1997 – Assessment report and new Federal permit application submitted to the Corps incorporating revised construction plans.

May 2001 – Acting of the behalf of the Delaware Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Mid-Atlantic Environmental Law Center contested the validity of the State permit for the project that was issued in August 1995.  

July 2001 – DNREC Secretary DiPasquale agreed with position of the Mid-Atlantic Environmental Law Center regarding the validity of the initial State permit.

Corps states they will suspend further processing of the Federal permit application for the project until a new State permit was issued.

July 2002 – New State permit application submitted for processing.

November 2002 – A Public Hearing for new State permit application was held at the Bethany Beach Fire Company.

July 2003 – FY2004 Bond Bill contains an appropriation in the amount of $90,000 for the excavation equipment rental for Canal dredging project

Wetlands and Subaqueous Lands Section issue new State permit.  Corps reactivates Federal permit application.

Mid-Atlantic Environmental Law Center, acting on behalf of the Delaware Chapter of the Sierra Club, requests a hearing before the Environmental Appeals Board appealing the issuance of new State permit

March 2004 – Corps issues a Department of the Army Permit to dredge the Canal

April 2004 – Environmental Appeals Board hears first day of testimony regarding the State’s issuance of permit to dredge the Canal

Department Deputy Secretary David Small revokes State permit for the Canal project after learning the public record on which the decision was made to issue the permit had been compromised.

May 2004 – Corps notifies Division that Federal permit for Canal dredging was no longer valid since State Water Quality Certification was revoked with State permit.  Permit will become valid again once Water Quality Certification is reissued.

New State permit application is submitted to the Wetlands and Subaqueous Lands Section requesting to dredge the Canal.

August 2004 – State’s Wetlands and Subaqueous Lands Section issues new State permit and Water Quality Certification.   Corps permit considered to be valid again.

September 2004 – Mid-Atlantic Environmental Law Center, acting on behalf of the Delaware Chapter of the Sierra Club requests a hearing before the Environmental Appeals Board appealing the issuance of new State permit.

February-March 2005 – Environmental Appeals Board Hearing appealing the issuance of the new State permit was held in DNREC building.

May 2005 – Environmental Appeals Board remands State permit back to Department requesting a new cost-benefit analysis be undertaken on the project.
July 2005 – Epilogue language in the FY2006 Bond Bill orders Division to move forward with Canal dredging project.

August 2006 – Site clearing begins along the banks of the Canal to facilitate mechanical dredging operations.

October 2006 – Dredging begins within the Assawoman Canal.

September 2007 – Dredging resumes in the canal and will continue through end of the year. There is a window which allows for dredging in the Inland Bays from September 1-December 31 annually.

September 2008 – Dredging again resumes in the canal and will continue through January 2010, or until the project is completed, which ever comes first.

January 2010 – Dredging continues after DNREC received an extension from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the State of Delaware to dredge this year until April 15 in an effort to complete the project before the upcoming boating season. That date will also coincide with completion of the project, it's greatly anticipated. Project manager Charles Williams explained that a third confined disposal facility had been secured for dredge from the canal and, once constructed, it will expedite the dredging process. The facility was actually secured last November, but weather-related issues precluded its construction. Currently, the dredge crew is making only about 50 feet of advance a day, primarily due to the use of a booster pump and the pumping distance to the disposal facility presently being used. The new disposal facility will not require use of a booster pump which is expected to double the daily advance rate. Mr. Williams also stated that he has been involved with the dredging of the canal in some capacity or other since 1984, and would like to see the project completed as soon as possible.

May, 2010 – With a harsh winter deterring completion efforts, dredging continues in the Assawoman Canal, through an extension granted by the regulatory agencies allowing for work to continue through May 28. If dredging is not completed by that date, DNREC will request additional weeks into June to allow for the project to be completed this season. 

 

June, 2010 – DNREC receives State Wetlands and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit extensions through July 31, though the department is on task to have the canal dredging project completed by that date, with currently less than a 1/2 mile of dredging remaining.

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