Posted October 31, 2018
The president signed a bill last week authorizing the dredging of Hampton Harbor and local officials hope funding for the project will now come in 2019.
The project was included in the America’s Water Infrastructure Act, signed last week by President Donald Trump. The bill identifies priority projects around the country, though does not include funding or bind the Army Corps of Engineers to complete the projects. It includes language that would permit emergency dredging of Hampton Harbor, which falls under the Corps’ purview.
Local, state and federal officials from New Hampshire have been calling for the harbor to be dredged for the last few years, concerned shoaling has made the harbor nearly unusable. Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite of the Corps said approximately $4 million needed for the harbor’s dredging could be placed into the Corps’ 2019 work plan, he said.
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said she plans to push for that funding to be secured in the Corps’ work plan next year. She and other New Hampshire congressional delegates have helped push for the dredging to take place, co-signing numerous letters to federal agencies calling for the project.
“Our coastal community has been anxiously awaiting emergency dredging to both alleviate public safety risks and confront economic hardships for our fishermen who need access to the open waters from Hampton-Seabrook Harbor,” said Shaheen. “I’ll continue to push the Army Corps of Engineers to include emergency dredging for the harbor as they finalize their work plan for 2019.”
Town Manager Fred Welch said Monday town officials plan to send a letter to Shaheen and U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan thanking them for their efforts in pushing for the dredge.
The harbor was last dredged in 2013, but officials say shoaling has caused the need for an emergency dredge as locals say the harbor experiences lower and lower water levels at low tide. Captains and business owners say boats have frequently become stuck in the mud at low tide. The harbor supports 90 lobster and fishing boats, a fishing cooperative, emergency boats and the Hampton River Marina, according to one letter from the New Hampshire congressional delegates advocating for the project.