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The Oregon Inlet saga continues.

Last week, the Virginian-Pilot reported that dredging will once again commence in the next few months in order to keep the North Carolina waterways connecting Pamlico Sound with the Atlantic Ocean open. The Army Corps of Engineers will dredge between Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands, as well as in Oregon Inlet and the channels around Rodanthe and Ocracoke. Funding for the most recent round of dredging comes from $54.3 million in federal disaster money that is earmarked for dredging projects statewide.

Despite initial hope that Hurricane Irene had opened the channels at the end of August 2011, shifting sands after the storm caused shoaling along ferry routes, creating some of the worst conditions that ferry captains remember seeing. With the shoaling, came a sudden and dramatic end to tourism on Ocracoke businesses.

For those who depend on tourism and fishing, news of the dredging plans is welcome. If all goes as announced, the dredging should be completed before any visitors begin arriving. That means that business on Ocracoke Island will be open for the season and fishing businesses will be able to access the ocean.

But as one person the newspaper quoted appropriately summarized, dredging is only a “Band-Aid” for a problem that really needs a more permanent solution. Residents and business owners alike continue to be frustrated by the constant issue of shoaling and a problem that just won’t seem to go away. Several years ago, a proposal to install jetties in the sounds that was backed by three decades of study and quite a bit of local suppor was rejected by the federal government. And so the refrain goes: Until a permanent solution is found, periodic dredging remains the answer we all have to live with.


About the Editors: The Shapiro, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.

One Comment

  1. Gravatar for George Meredith MD
    George Meredith MD

    Hatteras and Oregon Inlets Shoaling:

    Bring in a Giant Dutch Hopper Dredge and do it Right!

    The time is now to contract a vessel like the Dutch built Trailing Suction Hopper Dredge Congo River. The entire Oregon Inlet could be cleaned out in a matter of weeks through the use of a 40,000 cubic meter capacity vessel as pictured in Congo River Trailing Suction Hopper Dredge website.

    A commercial trailing suction hopper dredge could discharge its dredge spoils close to the beach. In the case of Oregon Inlet dredging deposit the spoils, as close as possible, say at North Nags Head. And then let Mother Nature do the rest. The prevailing tides would carry the new sediment southward and inshore. A supplement to the South Nags Head beach restoration project. An added bonus would be a dramatic increase in zooplankton and fish populations on the newly constructed outer bar. Making South Nags Head a top surf fishing destination on the Outer Banks. Ditto for outer bar vis a vis world class surfing.

    The US Army Corps of Engineers and their little side discharge Dredge Merritt was but a joke. Another waste of your hard earned federal tax dollars. Just another federal jobs program. Ditto for the hopper dredge Currituck with its tiny 300 cubic meter payload. You see how long that lasted, don’t you? In the long run, the Currituck proved to be five times as expensive as a real hopper dredge like the Congo River.

    The Congo River with its 40,000 cubic meter payload, could completely clean out Oregon Inlet in a few weeks! And would not have to return for years, perhaps decades. Much less expensive than those never ending, make work federal dredge projects. And less expensive than building a long, terribly expensive, quickly foiled, granite rip rap North Jetty.

    Wake up North Carolina! The Federal Government is the problem, not the solution. If necessary, finance a Congo River dredging project yourselves. Contract a large commercial trailing suction hopper dredge and the shoaling of Oregon Inlet problem could be resolved in a few weeks. The Congo River Hopper Dredge would be so effective that no granite rip rap north jetty would be needed. Saving hundreds of millions of dollars. And Congo River type massive dredging project would not have to be repeated for years, perhaps decades.

    Citizens of the mid Atlantic, petition Congressman Walter Jones and your other elected representatives to, in turn, petition the central government to waive their restriction that requires only US built Hopper Dredges to do projects like this. The corrupt US Corps of Engineers has repeatedly tried with their tiny, breakdown prone dredges to open these two vital inlets. And look at all the money that has been wasted!

    If the Bush-Clinton cabal can scam America in order to allow their coconspirators in Indonesia, China and Taiwan, to import hundreds of billions of dollars worth of junk products into America….if Congress allowed this fraud upon America, surely we can spend a few million dollars to employ our Dutch allies, to come in and really clean out Oregon Inlet and Hatteras Inlet.

    Wake up Citizens of the Mid Atlantic! Ask the federal Government for a waiver and bring in a massive hopper dredge like the Dutch Based Congo River. To really open up these inlets!

    George Meredith MD

    Virginia Beach

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