Monday, April 22, 2024

New Hanover County to begin dredging Carolina Beach Inlet after Coast Guard calls waters unsafe

It didn't take long for the county to announce they would be working with the Army Corps of Engineers to begin an emergency dredging project of the inlet.

The Carolina Beach Inlet has suffered dangerous shoaling and is scheduled to have its navigational buoys removed by the Coast Guard (Port City Daily/Courtesy Google)
The Carolina Beach Inlet has suffered dangerous shoaling and is scheduled to have its navigational buoys removed by the Coast Guard (Port City Daily/Courtesy Google)

Update: This article has been updated to clarify the county’s position on the dredging project.

CAROLINA BEACH — It didn’t take long after a formal announcement by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) of its intention to remove all navigational buoys from the Carolina Beach Inlet for New Hanover County to get involved

The announcement from the county came following harsh criticism from the Carolina Beach Inlet Association, although the county says they were already addressing the issue and says some of the association’s claims are incorrect.

On Thursday the Carolina Beach Inlet Association sent an email notifying mariners of the scheduled closure of the inlet, and the group was not one to mince words with where the blame should lie.

“For years, the CBIA has existed for the sole purpose of educating and informing the general public, community leaders, both local and state politicians, with a double emphasis on our New Hanover County Commissioners, of the benefit as well as the necessity of allocating appropriate funds to keep the inlet open. What we stood to lose as an island, town and how the county would be affected should we lose the inlet, due to their minimal efforts and contributions. They refused to allocate the funds needed, even though the state is willing to match every dollar 2 to 1 the county contributes – it’s that important,” Carlton Brown, corporate secretary of the CBIA wrote.

On Friday afternoon, just hours after the announcement by the USCG, New Hanover County announced it would begin a dredging project starting in April.

According to a New Hanover County press release, “The U.S. Coast Guard had expressed a concern that its vessel used to move buoys could not access and relocate the buoys, which aid navigation, until the inlet was dredged. New Hanover County staff are working with the Corps of Engineers to coordinate a schedule for the dredging project and anticipate it will commence by mid-April. Following the project, the U.S. Coast Guard’s vessels will be able to move buoys to provide boaters safe guides through the inlet. The schedule should allay concerns that the Coast Guard would not provide navigational aids for the inlet.”

According to New Hanover County spokesperson Jessica Loeper, “The press release we sent was in response to the dialogue on social media and from the inlet association that was not accurate. There is $1,020,000 in state and county funds currently in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ coffers for dredging Carolina Beach Inlet,” Loeper said, adding that there was not a “funding issue” or lack of funding from the county.

Loeper said the county was already aware of the need to dredge and is “in the process of coordinating schedules with the U.S. Corps of Engineers dredge fleet to perform the work, which is expected to commence in mid-April.”


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