Posted on October 5, 2023
A pair of dredges was expected to arrive in Murrells Inlet this week to start work in the federal channel, the first of three proposed projects to improve navigation through the estuary.
Dredging in the federal channel was last done by the Army Corps of Engineers in 2017. The current project received funding from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021.
As part of that work, Georgetown County is seeking federal and state permits to dredge shoals from the mouth of Oaks Creek behind the entrance jetties.
“It’s truly a safety issue,” said state Rep. Lee Hewitt.
The Corps agreed to let Georgetown County piggy-back on its channel project to take advantage of having the dredges at hand.
“Somewhere along the way, the permit was not applied for,” Hewitt said.
The 20,000 cubic yards of sand will be pumped from Oaks Creek to the front beach at Garden City or on the marsh side of Huntington Beach State Park. The Corps and the state Department of Heath and Environmental Control are taking comments from the public about the work.
In the meantime, the contractor will be at work on the Corps project in the federal channel. That work is scheduled to continiue into December.
“The Army Corps won’t color outside their lines,” Hewitt said, but “we can use their contractor while they’re here.”
The work in Oaks Creek will be funded from a portion of $14 million set aside in the state budget for dredging outside the federal channel in Murrells Inlet.
The bulk of those funds are intended to cover the cost of removing an estimated 750,000 cubic yards of sand and silt from other channels within Murrells Inlet.
Georgetown County has funded a portion of the work, including key studies on offshore spoils disposal sites. Without approval to use those sites, the project isn’t feasible, according to GEL, the firm designing the project.
Permit requests have been submitted to federal and state regulators and are due to be placed on public notice next month, Hewitt said.
The target date for the dredging is the fall and winter of 2025.