BRUNSWICK COUNTY — Dredging of inlets is a common occurrence around Southeastern N.C., and the benefits to dredging extend further than allowing easier navigation in the channels.
One of the benefits of dredging is that the sand that is dredged from the inlet can then be used to help beach renourishment, but not all of the spoils are shared equally. That’s why the Town of Oak Island is requesting to become a party to the Shallow Draft Inlet-5 federal permit.
On Tuesday, the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners will vote on authorizing a letter of support for the Town of Oak Island to become a party to the permit which already includes the neighboring Town of Holden Beach.
According to Brunswick County documents, “The Town of Holden Beach is currently a party to that permit, commonly referred to as the SDI5 permit, allowing it to remove material from the Lockwood Folly Inlet channel, with placement on portions of Holden Beach. The Town of Oak Island has applied to become a party to the same permit, which would effectively give the town authority to dredge material and place it on portions of Oak Island.”
Lockwoods Folly Inlet separates both Oak Island and Holden Beach where the Lockwoods Folly River meets the Atlantic Ocean.
In December, the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners voted to approve the dredging of Lockwoods Folly Inlet. The work was expected to begin in January. The dredging project which will be completed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers will deepen the channel to 10-feet, over a 100-foot wide area.
Under this project, Holden Beach would be the only recipient of dredging materials.
“The USACE has advised staff that it is not feasible to share the sand from this project between Holden Beach and Oak Island because of the travel distances involved and the limited time availability of the Currituck, nor is it feasible for all of the sand to be placed nearshore solely on Oak Island because of the same reasons,” minutes from the county’s December meeting state.
While the upcoming dredging project might not offer Oak Island any beneficial sands to be placed nearshore, future projects could offer benefits to both municipalities.
“If both towns are party to the permit, it would mean that the sand from future dredging projects would need to be allocated between the two beaches in a rational and equitable basis. The likely most cost effective way to allocate material placement would be by placement alternating between the islands on subsequent projects rather than placing sand on both islands in the same project, though there could be exceptions to the general rule,” according to Brunswick County documents.
The Lockwoods Folly Inlet is not the only shallow draft inlet the USACE is responsible for in the area; The Town of Emerald Isle and Carteret County share the status as stakeholder over the Bouge Inlet, the Town of Topsail Beach controls the New Topsail Inlet, and New Hanover County is responsible for the Carolina Beach Inlet.
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