Marina ‘mud’ problem leaves Commissioner Shimek skeptical

MD-secretary dredging-040616

Dorchester Banner/Susan M. Bautz
One suggestion to straighten out the hills and valleys in the southern branch of the Warwick River, ostensibly caused by dredging, is to push this barge across the water from the Secretary marina to the opposite shore.

SECRETARY — The Secretary Commission meeting on April 5 focused on the town’s marina rehabilitation and boat slip dredging. Chaired by Jennifer Rebert, commission president, in the absence of Mayor Susan Dukes, the first order of business was an update by Commissioner William Lauck about the project. Mr. Lauck said the construction was expected to be completed by the end of the month according to DNR (Department of Natural Resources) liaison Sandi Pepe.

Mr. Lauck said the contractor is driving pilings, and “they do have a few places to go back over the dredging part of it. There’s mud everywhere,” and not much water. He compared the creek bottom at the marina to hills and valleys. Because the Federal Anadromous Fish Act prohibits dredging from Feb. 15 through June 15, the proposed solution is to even out the mud hills by “running a barge across the area. The DNR claims that by using that barge they can straighten it out.” Commissioner Thomas Shimek was skeptical that the procedure would work other than moving the mud to areas that would cause problems for others along the waterfront.

“The whole mud flat (at the head of the creek) is moving down the creek,” said Mr. Lauck. Discussion followed about whether or not the barge caused the hills and valleys in the mud bottom, where the mud would be pushed, and how much weight on the barge is required to correct the problem.

Mr. Shimek noted there is “such a dam pushed up there now the water can’t run out” and pointed out that the creek is “all mud” in front of Colbourne Seafood. Commissioner Shimek recollected that many years ago the creek, upstream of the bridge, was dredged and the mud removed. “They drove sheathing in the marsh and pumped out the water. There was 5’ and 8’ by the bridge; now there’s 2’ or 3’.” He explained that the mud slides back in and what they took out is being replaced by what is oozing down from what they removed.

According to the Commissioners there is enough water from the bridge to the Choptank River but not from the bridge upstream toward the mud flats. The boat slips were dredged about 12 years ago but about ½ mile upstream from the marina the mud flats continue to creep into the channel and along the shore line. Mr. Lauck said the only solution would be to put a bulkhead across the creek at the marsh to stop the mud flow and then dredge the whole thing.” With high costs and environmental restrictions that is highly unlikely. It was also mentioned that persistently high northerly winds and low tides affect the water depth.

Watermen whose boats are in the southern branch of the Warwick River are continuing to have a difficult time navigating through the channel to the bridge and worry it will only worsen.
Ms. Rebert concluded, “So as long as the barge proposal works we’re good to go.”

In other business, Commissioners approved an expenditure of $2,175 to remove the old wood chips at the town playground and replace them with engineered wood fiber. The drainage pipe replacement and re-paving on Oak Street is completed at a cost of $2,500. Commissioners Lauck and Shimek questioned why the work was sub-contracted rather than performed by town employees with town equipment. The problem was a spring under the road according to Ms. Rebert, who noted, “We did vote on this to have it done.”

Susan Bautz is a freelance writer for the Dorchester Banner.

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