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Cottrell Contracting to Dredge Murderkill River, De in August

Posted on August 22, 2022

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) is in the construction phase of an emergency dredging project at the mouth of the Murderkill River.

The Murderkill River flows from just west of Felton, northeast through Kent County to its inlet to the Delaware Bay just south of Bowers Beach. The river is a navigational channel that serves numerous boat ramps and provides essential access for commercial and emergency vessels.

Shoaling has increasingly impacted navigation in the Murderkill Inlet. In March of 2022, DNREC completed a small-scale dredging project on the waterway. Due to equipment limitations, DNREC was unable to remove enough sediment to completely restore the navigational channel. This emergency dredging project will further deepen the channel to regain safe, navigable access to the Murderkill River at all tide levels.

Work on the project is expected to run the month of August, 2022.

Project Overview

The Murderkill River Inlet has become increasingly more difficult to navigate due to shoaling. A shoal is a submerged accumulation of sediment that is built by wave and current action.

Dredging projects are often used to remove this sediment and restore the use of channels experiencing shoaling. The goal of the Murderkill River dredging project is to restore navigability and increase boating safety while strengthening shoreline resiliency.

The Murderkill River is a federally-authorized navigation project channel which relies on periodic maintenance, including dredging. As the Murderkill River Inlet serves as an access point for commercial and emergency vessels in addition to recreational boating, DNREC gave this project emergency status and prioritized it for completion.

In the spring of 2022, DNREC completed a small-scale dredging project at the inlet using a land-based excavator. Navigation continued to be a challenge during low tides, so it was decided that hydraulic dredging equipment was necessary to further deepen the channel.

DNREC does not have the equipment or capacity for this larger-scale project. The work will be completed by the Cottrell Contracting Corporation of Chesapeake, VA. Funds for the $2.3 million project come from the Bond Bills for fiscal years 2022 and 2023.

Cottrell Contracting Corp. is expected to begin dredging during the week of August 1, 2022. Approximately 52,000 cubic yards of sediment are permitted for dredging by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and DNREC regulators. In addition to the restoration of channel navigability and boating safety, this project will strengthen South Bowers Beach’s shoreline resiliency; dredged sediments will be beneficially re-used to nourish the beach and dune.

DNREC will use dredged sediments to nourish the eroding shoreline of South Bowers Beach. The sand dunes at South Bowers Beach provide multiple ecosystem services including flooding protection, extreme weather protection, coastal species habitat, and aesthetic value. To maintain these protective dunes, beach nourishment is occasionally required. The beach-quality sand dredged from the Murderkill Inlet will be used to nourish up to 1,000 feet of the eroding sand dunes at South Bowers Beach.

Anticipated Timeline

A typical dredge project requires the following steps:

  • Pre-Planning/Prioritization
  • Planning, Engineering, Design
  • Permit Acquisition
  • Procurement/Bid
  • Construction
  • Monitoring

The emergency Murderkill River dredging project is now in the construction phase. DNREC anticipates substantial completion of construction by the end of August 2022.

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