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Cooper River Dredging Underway Again

Posted on July 21, 2016

By Carol Comegno, Courier-Post

Dredging has resumed on the Cooper River, but this time there is not a total ban on boating.

While the final phase of the $10 million dredging project is underway on the river’s upper stretch near the Cuthbert Boulevard Bridge, boating is permitted west of Veterans Island near the new Cooper House restaurant – much to the delight of sailors, rowers, fishermen and kayakers.

Camden County Freeholder Jeffrey Nash said Tuesday that dredging of the last 30,000 cubic yards of river bottom to deepen the channel and remove sediment contaminants should end by Aug.31.


In cooperation with the county, he said Cooper River Yacht Club is conducting daytime safety patrols to keep river traffic away from the the marked demarcation line that separates the dredge area from the boating area. The demarcation line is a series of white buoys on a line of rope stretching across the river at Veterans Island.

“This is a good working partnership with the yacht club monitoring the buoy line. There was consensus among the yacht and rowing club to keep most of the river course open for practices and leisure boating and the contractor agreed to it,” Nash said.

Yacht club President Ralph Talbot said the arrangement could not be better and no problems have arisen.

“We can all use the river and the line keeps people away from the dredge,” he said.

This week the yacht club is conducting on-the-water classes to teach youngsters the art of sailing.

“It’s working out great for us and we really appreciate the county’s effort to keep the river open,” said Haddon Township rower John Glace of the nearly 100-member Cooper River Rowing Club that practices in the early mornings during summer.

The river has been closed to rowing regattas for nearly a year now, but county boathouse manager Jamie Stack said he hopes to begin scheduling 2017 events by the fall. The Cooper is considered one of the nation’s premier sculling venues because it is non-tidal and has a straight course that begins near the Route 130 bridge and heads upstream.

“Every regatta has put in a request to return next year and we’ve even had discussions with some additional regattas,” Stack said.

The river has been the location for the national Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) regatta, the Women’s NCAA regatta, the national championship regatta for high schools and many others, all of which boost tourism and the regional economy. The high school regatta brings 5,000 athletes and up to 15,000 spectators.

Dredging began last summer but was halted in March so it would not interfere with fish spawning. Boating resumed April 9 after dredging ended but without the latest restriction.

Nash said he favored resumption of dredging this month instead of in the fall in order to ensure that new dredge spoils deposited ashore on the Pennsauken side of the river would be able to dry out and be removed in time for the county to restore the banks with landscaping by spring.


Meanwhile, the new dredge spoils being deposited via pipeline into long drying bags on shore are drying. Water seeping through the skins of the bags during the drying process is being collected and then sent via a separate river pipeline to a Camden County Municipal Authority pumping station in Cherry Hill for treatment at a Camden plant.

The county dredged 85,000 cubic yards of river sediment between November 2015 and March, a four-month feat Nash called extraordinary for a dredging project. The Delaware River Port Authority is paying half the cost.

Source: Courier-Post

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