Friday, July 17, 2015

Shark River: The Dredge Debate

Ask anyone who has piloted a boat through Shark River and they will tell you how shallow and dangerous it can be, especially around low tide. For the last two decades, local, state, and federal officials, as well as concerned citizens, have been working on a feasible plan that will make Shark River navigable once again.

Everyone agrees that dredging is necessary. Where opinions differ is how much dredging should take place, where the dredged material will be dried out, and ultimately, where it will be managed. In such a densely populated area, how towns choose to handle dredge material has become the proverbial stick in the mud. However, there is finally some hope.

This past month the NJ Department of Transportation, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and the Towns of Neptune and Belmar have come together with local and state law makers to come up with a dredging plan for the 105,000 cubic yards of material clogging Shark River’s state-managed channels. One of the temporary management areas is on Seaview Island, which was a dredged material disposal area until 30 years ago. Understandably, some residents are concerned while others are supportive of the much-needed dredging project. The good news is that the material tested clean by meeting the residential direct contact standards. The material will be placed at the Monmouth County landfill to be used beneficially.

This has the potential to vastly improve navigability for boaters, while also minimizing impacts to the environment and the surrounding area. Clean Ocean Action has closely followed these developments and will continue to work closely with those involved to facilitate the successful completion of the project.

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