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Fenwick Prepares For Dredging Permit Application

Posted on October 24, 2022

A contract allowing a local engineering firm to complete work for dredging permit applications will advance to the town council with the support of a Fenwick Island committee.

On Tuesday, the Fenwick Island Dredging Committee voted unanimously to advance a contract from Anchor QEA, a Lewes-based engineering firm, to the town council with a favorable recommendation. Steve Bagnull, the company’s project manager, told committee members this week the contract outlines the action items that will need to be completed before the town applies for dredging permits early next year.

“The overall scope of this proposal is to get us through the intermediate design, which is necessary to obtain permits and submit permit applications …,” he explained. “The proposal we submitted has three primary tasks.”

Plans for a dredging project in the Little Assawoman Bay began in earnest in 2018, when the town hired Tony Pratt, former administrator for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), to guide them through the funding and permitting processes. By the following year, Anchor QEA, a Lewes-based engineering firm, was brought on board to provide design, bidding and construction managements services.

Simply put, the dredging project is expected to address shoaling in the back-bay system and connect boating channels along Fenwick’s bayside canals to the main channel in the Little Assawoman Bay. As part of that effort, roughly 19,000 cubic feet of dredged material would be moved to another site for reuse.

In recent months, the committee had narrowed its options to three potential deposit sites – Seatowne residential community, a nearby kayak launch and Seal Island. In August, however, members agreed using the dredged material to restore Seal Island remained the community’s favored option.

“Right now, I think Seal Island is still number one,” Councilman Bill Rymer, committee chair, said at the time.

With a site selected for the dredging project, Bagnull came before the committee this week with a list of tasks that needed to be accomplished before the town could submit its application for dredging permits. Those tasks, he explained, included completing a bathymetric survey, sediment sampling and additional geotechnical work, as well as hydromodeling and design work.

“Once we have the design nailed down, we could wrap up the components of the permit application …,” he said.

Officials noted that permit applications need to be completed by March 31 in order to bid out and award a construction contract next fall.

“We’re envisioning a seven-month review process that will get us permits by the end of October,” Bagnull added.

When asked how long dredging work would take, Bagnull said it could take roughly three months to complete.

“You need to get your construction underway in November,” he said.

Rymer noted the proposal submitted to the committee this week included an outline of the required tasks that would need to be completed in the coming months, as well as a cost estimate for the work.

“The overall cost is $131,000 …,” he said. “We’re about to incur a lot of cost connected to the research of Seal Island, which we had not really expected about a year ago.”

With roughly $70,000 available in dedicated dredging funds, Rymer noted the committee would have to seek additional funding from the town council for the necessary permitting work. After further discussion, however, the committee voted to support a contract with Anchor QEA that omitted roughly $68,000 in design work, the last step in the permitting process. Officials pointed out discussion and approval of that action item could be considered at a later date.

“So we won’t need to request funds from the council,” Rymer said.

Rymer this week also updated the committee on the town’s applications for grant funding. In recent months, the town has submitted a $100,000 grant request to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and a $1.1 million grant request to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“We have not received word,” he said.

Rymer added that his is also awaiting a letter of support from Delaware State Parks.

“They have drafted a letter saying Delaware State Parks supports Fenwick Island using Seal Island and proceeding with the dredging project,” he said. “We need that support to file our permits.”


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