Dorchester Watermen Calling for Dredging in Busy Channel - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Dorchester Watermen Calling for Dredging in Busy Channel

 HOOPERS ISLAND, Md.- A popular channel near Hoopers Island, once dredged regularly, hasn't been cleaned up in at least four years.

That's the headache watermen like Marcus Flowers Jr., who works out of the Barren Island Gap have to deal with.

"They used to keep it dredged out for us, but now, if we get a low tide, or even a normal tide, you have a struggle getting in and out without tearing all your stuff up." said Flowers.

"They" is the Army Corps of Engineers.

Here's just how bad it's gotten.  If you take a look over the bridge to the island, there are some sticks here marking the channel.  Those sticks were put there by the watermen and if the tide is good enough, and if the boat is going full throttle, you might make it through there without getting stuck.  They say that's a lot of "ifs".

Dorchester county council president Jay Newcomb says it used to be in the Corps' general maintenance plan, but it was cut several years ago, and the channel hasn't been dredged since.

"It was through a general maintenance through the corps that they had general money to keep it maintained, but it has slipped through the cracks and there is no money available except through a special project.  They say there is no money available." said Newcomb.

While the council struggles to find the best solution, watermen still have to spend anywhere from 10 to 15 extra gallons of fuel to avoid the area completely.

WBOC reached out to the Army Corps of Engineers for comment.  They say they recognize the importance of dredging the channel, but also say the money is just not what it used to be.  Federal money is allotted based on the economic impact a project would have on the region, a corp spokesman said.  They say unfortunately this dredging project at the Barren Island Gap is not as competitive as other projects nationwide.

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