Highlands- Imminently the New Jersey Department of Transportation will begin sand shoal maintenance dredging soon in three NJ state navigation channels in the Shrewsbury River, Clean Ocean Action (COA) urges the Shrewsbury River community and Monmouth Beach –goers to keep a safe distance-- but a watchful eye on the upcoming dredging and beach replacement projects to ensure project complies with public and ecosystem health requirements.
“Clean Ocean Action received a copy of the notice of dredging that was issued by NJDOT to the DEP’s Bureau of Marine Water Monitoring, which we carefully reviewed and thus far all permit conditions have been met. However, oversight and monitoring are essential and local people can help.” said Swarna Muthukrishnan, PhD., COA Staff Scientist.
The preliminary permit conditions included:
a) Sediment cores were sampled of the material to test the quality of the material to ensure proper management. Only certain areas qualify for beach replenishment. The standard is 90% or greater sand material for beaches.
b) A pre-dredging biological survey was conducted on Sep 19, 2017 by a consulting firm to look for seabeach amaranth, a plant that is on the federal “threatened” plants list. The survey identified 2 areas of seabeach amaranth, with a total of four plants. These have been documented by US Fish & Wildlife Service and fenced off, and are located outside of the proposed beach fill and dredge pipe placement area.
c) A 30-day notice was issued announcing that shellfish waters in the Shrewsbury River must be closed due to the suspension of the sediments and possible exposure of clams to contamination. Shellfishing shall be closed for harvesting for the duration of dredging operations and the closure shall extend 30-days after completion of works.
d) Hydraulic dredging will be used, and the dredged material will be transported via pipeline to the beach placement area. Pipe lines are currently in place and project ready.
COA urges citizens who are regularly in the Shrewsbury River and walking along the shore in Monmouth Beaches to keep a safe distance, but also a watchful eye to be sure:
· Material pumped on beaches in front of the existing dune between Central and Park Road and looks like 90% sand. It will likely be discolored (greyish) from being on the bottom of the river, but it should be sandy.
· Be sure fenced areas protecting the rare plant species, beach amaranth, are intact.
· Barges are dredging in the designated areas, circled on the maps below.
· Dredging activities must end by December 31, 2017.
(i) Monmouth Beach channel (#016) in the boroughs of Monmouth Beach and Sea Bright, to a maximum depth of 6-ft below the Plane of Mean Low Water Level (MLW);
(ii) (ii) Rumson Country Club Y Channel (#017) in the boroughs of Rumson and Sea Bright, to a maximum depth of 5-ft MLW; and
(iii) (iii) Oceanport Creek Entry channel (#025) in the borough of Oceanport, to a maximum depth of 4-ft MLW. Approximately 17,500 cubic yards is estimated to be removed from the three channels according to the permit details.
Together this important project will improve waterways for safe navigation, and replenish beaches with clean sand. Clean Ocean Action will be monitoring the process carefully, along with the communities of the Shrewsbury River and Monmouth Beach.