Posted on December 9, 2022
Two significant dredging operations are happening in the Southport-Oak Island-Bald Head Island area. The smaller operation is pulling sand from the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AICW) for the west end of Oak Island. A larger operation will soon begin clearing two sections of the Wilmington Harbor shipping channel. That project will add sand to Bald Head’s South Beach.
The Oak Island project is clearing the Lockwood Folly River crossing of the AICW and is expected to add sand to some of the worst-eroded portions of the beach, including areas where houses are currently protected at high tide by large sandbags.
Performed every year or other year, the Wilmington Harbor project is a major undertaking. This year, the sand will go on Bald Head along South Beach from roughly Sandpiper Trail to the west and ending at about Killegay Ridge to the east.
The pre-construction meeting was held a week ago and the dredge Savannah and service crafts are moored on the west side of Battery Island, near Southport.
Crews are pre-positioning pipes along the South Beach strand and sand is expected to begin flowing any day. The project is expected to move 1-million cubic yards of sand.
The work will continue day and night until approximately February 10, 2023.
During construction, residents should be aware that there will be loud machinery, backup alarms, and bright lights at night for the safety of the workers.
As work progresses, the crews will progressively close 1,000-foot stretches of the beach, one at a time. Beachgoers are asked to respect the construction fencing and signage and to not approach the pipes or equipment. Sand ramps will be constructed about every 400 feet so that pedestrians can safely walk across the pipe carrying the sand/water slurry.
The Savannah is a 118-meter-long cutterhead suction dredge that draws 2.4-meters of water fully loaded, and runs a 7,300 kilowatt power plant.
Carin Faulkner, spokeswoman for the Village of Bald Head Island, said the work would not directly address severe erosion at the west end of South Beach. The Shoals Club there has installed sandbags to save some of its walkways.
Faulkner said the village was looking at a separate, smaller project that could use sand from Jay Bird Shoals or Frying Pan Shoals.
Boaters are advised to stay clear of the dredges, especially when they are in full operation. The work will continue around the clock, weather permitting. The crew will monitor VHF channels 13 and 16 if boaters have questions or wish to announce their intention to transit the work area.