Thursday, December 1, 2022

To dredge or not to dredge? That is the question for Carolina Beach

A year after the dredging of Carolina Beach Lake began - and four months after it was terminated - the town still has decisions to make

The dredging project in Carolina Beach was supposed to remove 83,000 cubic yards of material to allow for a greater storm water capacity (Port City Daily Photo/MICHAEL PRAATS)
The dredging project in Carolina Beach was supposed to remove 83,000 cubic yards of material to allow for a greater storm water capacity (Port City Daily Photo/MICHAEL PRAATS)

CAROLINA BEACH — It has been more than a year since the Town of Carolina Beach implemented what ultimately became an ill-fated lake dredging project. In December, the town terminated the incomplete project, but that left some issues unresolved.

Background

The project was originally created to help address the town’s flooding issues, and the intent was to increase the depth of the lake.

Expectations were that the project would be complete by the end of 2017, leaving the lake with 83,000 cubic yards more room for flood waters.  

Problems began in September 2017 when MOTSU (Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point) demanded the town stop placing the dredging spoils from the lake on MOTSU property. 

Read more: Halfway through lake dredging project Carolina Beach suspends work after MOTSU misunderstanding

Problems for the town only compounded after receiving the suspension notice.

Finding a secondary location to dump the spoils from the dredging proved difficult, and once soil tests were completed, it was revealed the material in the lake contained arsenic.

After more than one year since its commencement, Town Council will meet Tuesday to discuss the future of the lake.

Although the project resulted in some setbacks, it was not a complete failure. According to the project goals, the town had planned on removing 83,000-cubic-yards of material to add 16 million gallons worth of water storage. Instead, the town removed 32,720-cubic-yards and added more than 6 million gallons of water storage, increasing holding capacity by 40 percent.

The project also managed to increase pumping capacity to Henniker’s Ditch as well as capacity through the emergency pipe to the ocean.

What’s next?

The town is still responsible for dealing with the spoils that have been placed on MOTSU property. New guidelines per MOTSU include:
• Existing material should be moved to Old Spray Field
• Material must be removed from Old Spray Field within 3 to 5 years
• An additional 10,000-cubic-yards can be added to the existing 30,000-cubic-yards
•  A new lease will be established for the spoils location for a 3-5-year term
• At the end of the lease, the property must be returned to previous condition

The Town Council will have to decide what steps to take next when it comes to the completion of the product. Options include leaving the soil in place and calling the project official off, create a new island in the lake and move the soils to this island, remove the arsenic soils, or a remediation action plan.

Excavators sit idly by in Carolina Beach while the town tries to find a location to dump dredging spoils after a misunderstanding with MOTSU (Port City Daily photo/MICHAEL PRAATS)
The Lake Dredging Project in Carolina Beach was terminated in 2017 (Port City Daily photo/MICHAEL PRAATS)

The pros and cons

These are the four options for dealing with the lack dredging project, and the pros and cons according to Town Manager Michael Cramer.

Option 1 – leave Carolina Beach Lake as it

  • Pros
    • Increased Lake Capacity by 40 percent
    • Increased Pumping Capabilities by 68 percent
    • Identified future challenges with continued dredging
    • Utilize remaining project funds for other storm water improvement projects. Estimated cost: $1.4 million
  • Cons
    • Did not complete the entire project
    • More than half of lake is still 18 inches deep
    • Continual issues with aquatic vegetation
    • Difficulties for rental boats

Option two – create a new island

  • Pros
    • 200 x 200 island- 3 feet high, would increase lake capacity by 626-cubic-yards
  • Cons
    • Would reduce the surface area of lake by 1 acre
    • Would have a high cost to benefit ratio for this option

Option 3- remove contaminated soils

  • Pros
    • Provides maximum lake capacity
    • Reduce maintenance for aquatic vegetation
    • Increase depth for rental boats
  • Cons
    • Would have a high cost to benefit ratio
    •  Landfill disposal cost: $3 to 4.5 million
    • Town Property disposal cost: $2.2 million

Option 4 – remedial action plan

  • Pros
    • Provides maximum lake capacity
    • Reduce maintenance for aquatic vegetation
    • Increase depth for rental boats
  • Cons
    • Unlikely to get State Approval
    • Difficult (Impossible) to find large enough property to remediate soil
    • Cannot use MOTSU
    • Questionable Cost to Benefit Ratio
    • Need for future monitoring

According to a draft presentation prepared for Tuesday’s meeting, Cramer’s recommendation is to leave the project as it, and use the remaining funds for the lake dredging on other projects.

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