Posted on May 8, 2023
Responding to our article $1.6 Million Harbor Dredge Comes Up Short, City of Rye City Manager says “the article contained numerous inaccuracies and misstatements, reflecting a fundamental misunderstanding of the two-part dredge and the relationship to the US Coast Guard markers”. Usry makes the case the Milton Harbor dredge is delivering the goods, and states the Coast Guard buoys are a separate and distinct matter.
1051 Boston Post Road
Mr. Jay Sears
RE: Boat Basin Dredge
Last week there was an article published in MyRye regarding the City’s dredge of the Channel. Unfortunately, the article contained numerous inaccuracies and misstatements, reflecting a fundamental misunderstanding of the two-part dredge and the relationship to the US Coast Guard markers.
The Fall 2022 dredge was the first full dredge of the Federal Channel in almost 15 years (a small section of the Channel was dredged in 2013) and reflects a permit process that began in 2014. Based upon recent regulatory action and specific requirements of the US Anny Corps, we determined the best approach was to seek multiple permits that would allow us to deposit the Channel silt in the open water (a less expensive process), while the Basin silt was required to be disposed up upland (due to its toxicity and incompatibility with the Clean Water Act and other requirements-a more expensive process). In September of 2021, I presented the City Council a dredge update, including the expected schedule. That schedule contemplated receiving all approvals in time for a dredge in Fall 2022 and predated the notice we received from the Coast Guard.
Unrelated to the dredge permits we received notice from the US Coast Guard (USCG) in January 2022 of their intention to remove the channel markers due to the years of silting and the concern for potential damage to their equipment when servicing their buoys. In response, the City engaged a consultant to assist in appealing this decision in light of our pending permits and planned dredge of the Channel. In spite of aggressive support from our local elected officials, Federal delegation and considerable outreach from community members and local organizations, the USCG removed the buoys in June 2022. Simultaneously with the removal the City secured USCG approved channel markers and replaced in kind (with significantly improved functionality). There was no interruption to the channel markings and the buoys have been monitored and maintained by the City.
These two regulatory processes are governed by separate and independent Federal authorities. Although the timing is coincidental, the scope of the dredge has been a long time in process, and we have achieved our desired results. In November 2022, we completed the Channel dredge, which was permit limited to a total of 20,939 cubic yards of sediment and a depth NOT TO EXCEED FIVE FEET. Technically, our contract called for a dredge of four feet plus one foot of “over dredge.” This is the requisite industry approach and assures that we will stay within our permit restrictions.
Each year since 2019, we have completed a survey of the Channel and Basin to determine the depths throughout, and to assist us in estimating the annual silting. These surveys vary based upon storm and tide activity. We further conducted a survey pre and post dredge to confirm the activities of our dredge contractor. Our post dredge review indicated that 17,976 cubic yards of silt was removed (86% of that allowable under our permit). This Fall we intend to dredge the remaining 2,976 cubic yards permitted. In doing so, we will address a few of the shallower areas. Our objective is, and was, to meet our own boating requirements as efficiently and practicable as possible. This plan was based upon significant work by City staff, our consultant, and our Boat Basin Commission, as well as important community input. We did not know, in setting our objectives, that the USCG would be raising an issue about their channel markers. Accordingly, our channel dredge plan was not, and to be clear our current permits do not allow us, to reach a depth of over five feet throughout the Channel.
In 2022, the City Council authorized $1.6mm for the Channel dredge. We pay our dredge contractor based upon removed sediment. To date, we have paid $1.495mm; therefore leaving $105k for the remaining 2,976 cubic yards. The City continues to focus on the safety and navigation of of the Channel, and the successful operation of the Boat Basin. The Channel depth is greater than it has been in almost a decade, and there will be further refinements and improvements this year. The City’s markers were installed with the oversite and agreement of the USCG and are improved installations.
This fall we will dredge the Basin as well as address certain spots in the channel based on learnings from the post channel dredge survey. In addition, we will be using the opportunity to repair certain docks and pilings. The bottom line is that this is a process; we have completed the first phase and will engage in the second phase in Fall 2023. The current work has already yielded a much improved and safer boating experience in the channel. We look forward to completing the balance of the work for an even better experience.
[signed Greg Usry]
Cc: Mayor Josh Cohn and the Rye City Council Boat Basin Commission