DNREC-Funded Dredging of Murderkill River Begins - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

DNREC-Funded Dredging of Murderkill River Begins

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

BOWERS BEACH, Del. (WBOC)- A million-dollar project now under way looks to make the waters of the Murderkill River more navigable for fishermen.

The river empties into the Delaware Bay at Bowers Beach in Kent County. It's an area that relies on commercial and recreational fishing. But getting out of the river into the bay and back can be very difficult for boats.

At certain times of day, as things are, boats have to wait a really long time to get out into the bay or back to their slips in the river. That's because in some spots the water is just too shallow.

Right now dredging is happening in the middle of the bay and working its way down the navigation channel back toward the Murderkill.

The Army Corps of Engineers last dredged there in 2002

Dave Russell, who has worked the bay for decades, says that's been murder on boats that use the Murderkill.

"A big drop off with the customer base and also the business. There are just two boats now. There used to be four or five over the past few years."

Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Collin O'Mara says the project will remove 45,000 cubic yards of material. And 34,000 of that will be beach-fill quality sand. It will go to help widen the beach at South Bowers.

"We've done a lot of water quality sampling to make sure the sand doesn't have any contaminants, make sure there isn't any sludge or other kinds of muck," O'Mara said. "We obviously don't want that on a pristine beach like we have here at South Bowers."

Kyle Miller lives in North Bowers. He'd like to have seen DNREC do work on that part of the beach, too.

"We want to see a lot of projects done through DNREC," said Miller. "We can't do them as a town. We have to rely on DNREC to do these projects."

O'Mara says the project benefits the environment and the economy. The American Sportfishing Association estimates the annual value of recreational fishing in Delaware at $150 million. Commercial fishing comes in at $10 million.

"What's good for the health of our waterways is also good for the economy," said O'Mara.

"We'll be able to utilize the channel - getting in or out - at any given time," Russell said. "So, we don't have to stop our business."

O'Mara hopes the Army Corps of Engineers takes notice of this model - using dredged material of a good enough quality as a beach replenishment material.

"This model should be the preferred alternative for all kinds of navigation projects across the country. It's cheaper in the end to do these projects together rather than individually."

DNREC expects the whole project to take two and a half weeks to complete.

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