A Day on a Dredge Boat - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

A Day on a Dredge Boat

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DEWEY BEACH, Del. - Rehoboth and Dewey beaches are in the middle of an $11 million sand infusion, but how does all that new sand get on shore? The answer: dredging.

The dredge boat "Dodge Island" is currently stationed about two miles off Delaware's coast. The dredging operation is a joint effort between the Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District and DNREC. It's conducted by Great Lakes Dredge and Dock and goes on twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Crew members like Chief Mate Eric Dukett live onboard for a month at a time.

"We are a trailing auction hover barge," says Dukett. "So we go out and we mine sand from the bottom of the ocean. Then we take it in the cube and pump it out to the beach."

The Dodge Island can import nearly 3,000 cubic yards of sand from the bottom of the ocean at a time before depositing it onshore. The Rehoboth and Dewey beaches project totals 650,000 cubic yards--the equivalent of 65,000 dump trucks delivering sand.

Tony Pratt, DNREC's Administrator of Shoreline and Waterway Management, says consistent erosion rates and recent storms make the dredging and consequent replenishment absolutely necessary.

"Without this protection, we would see infrastructure losses. Instead we lose beach and sand," he says.  "It's a sacrifice we're willing to make--let the sand be the absorption factor for these storms rather than a boardwalk or roads or utility lines."

While the Dodge Island will only be in Delaware for another two weeks or so, Pratt says there are many onshore replenishment activities that will take place in the coming months. After that, it's only a matter of time until boats like the Dodge Island are back offshore, keeping Delaware's beaches the beautiful attraction they are.

"The erosion rate is pretty consistent. We pump this beach back out, we put 150 feet of beach out there, and 3-4 years we are going to come back out and replace that which was lost, Pratt says. "Had we not done this work going back to 2005, there would be virtually no sand in front of the boardwalk in Rehoboth and no one would want to come here."  
 

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