Army Corps vessel starts dredging harbor

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ 150-foot vessel, Currituck, a special-purpose dredge barge, is in Milford Harbor for a dredging project.

Over the next two weeks, the crew of the Currituck will remove the silting and shoaling along the federal channel by relocating approximately 14,000 cubic yards of material to a near shore site, off of Bayview Beach.

“The dredging will be at no cost to the city and will help ensure that Connecticut’s most popular recreational harbor remains safe to navigate,” said Mayor Ben Blake in a press release.

The proposed work involves removing about 14,000 cubic yards of sandy material from portions of the 10-foot deep entrance channel in Milford Harbor.

“Natural shoaling processes and storm events have reduced available depths in the 10-foot-deep entrance channel in Milford Harbor to as shallow as –1 foot mean lower low water,” said Project Manager Jack Karalius, of the Corps’ New England District, Programs and Project Management Division in Concord, Mass., earlier in the project approval process. “Given these conditions and current vessel drafts, shoaling within the project is limiting safe navigation.”

Without dredging, channel conditions will continue to deteriorate, which will deter and/or interfere with the use of the river and harbor by recreational and commercial vessels, according to an Army Corps press release.

The dredged material will be placed in the nearshore environment, in an area approximately 1,500 feet long by 1,000 feet wide, off of Bayview Beach in Milford, approximately one mile to the east.

“The Corps favors using the nearshore placement areas option because it is environmentally sound, cost effective and keeps the clean sediments in the littoral system,” an earlier press release from the Corps states.

“Although the placement area is new, no evidence of submerged historic properties (i.e. shipwrecks) was discernible in the survey data,” according to project details. “Therefore, maintenance dredging and placement of dredged material off of Bayview Beach are not anticipated to affect any cultural or archaeological features or resources.”

Some residents at Bayview Beach had raised concerns about the placement of the dredged material earlier in the process.

A Bayview Beach resident said three members of the Bayview Beach board met with the mayor about the project on Tuesday.

“Basically, everything was explained to them – why they picked that location, oyster beds,  pricing, etc.,” the Bayview Beach spokesman said. “And at the end of the day, they’re still going to dump off Bayview Beach.”