Waterway Management

An important part of the Division of Watershed Stewardship’s mission is to maintain and improve Delaware’s navigable waterways, including its bays and canals.

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Shoreline and Waterway Management

The Shoreline and Waterway Management Section oversees state dredging operations, including the operation of the Indian River Sand Bypass System, designed to provide an ongoing source of sand nourishment to the north side of Indian River Inlet.

The section oversees and provides guidance and planning for dredging projects in important Delaware waterways.

It also provides aids to navigation, including channel marking, macroalgae management and tax lagoons.

The section helps communities manage their flood risk and stay in compliance with National Flood Insurance Program Regulations for floodplain development. It helps to update and improve federal floodplain maps.

The Delaware Dam Safety Program works to reduce the risk of dam failures and the resulting consequences. It oversees the design and construction, operation and maintenance, and inspection of regulated dams in Delaware and provides resources for the community and dam owners.

Waterway Management Projects

Annual Dredging Report

The Shoreline and Waterway Management Section submits a report each year to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Capital Improvement Program, as required by epilogue to each fiscal year’s Bond and Capital Improvements Act. The act epilogue states “DNREC shall provide a report of the projects, priority rankings, and timelines for completion of the dredging, navigation, and channel marking related projects within the Inland Bays to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Capital Improvement Program by September 1st of each year.”

Aerial view of a boat cruising along a waterway

2022 White Creek Dredging Project

Channel maintenance for White Creek, which connects Indian River Bay to the Assawoman Canal, was identified as a high priority in a recent dredging project prioritization study. Since dredging last occurred in the early 2000s, shoaling has increasingly impacted navigation in the waterway. DNREC is now in the engineering and permitting phases of the project.

2020 Masseys Ditch Dredging Project

Massey’s Ditch was dredged to a width of 100 feet and a depth of 7.5 feet below Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW). A contractor removed approximately 140,000 cubic yards of material from the channel and adjacent areas. These included the entrance to Baker’s Channel, on the north side of Lynch Thicket Island, and a large shoal between the south end of Lynch Thicket Island and Middle Island.

Lightship Overfalls

The goal of the Overfalls project was to dredge the entire berthing slip to a depth of nine feet below mean low tide. The timeframe called for accomplishing this before the lightship returned from repairs made in New Jersey.

Indian River

The goal of the Indian River dredge project was to dredge an area that was particularly shallow and straighten a curve in the channel both located between channel markers 73A/74A and 73/74. These two goals have been accomplished. DNREC’s Shoreline and Waterway Management Section continued to dredge as much of the channel as possible before time-of-year restrictions stopped work.

Derelict Dock Removal Near Roosevelt Inlet

The Shoreline and Waterways Management Section worked with Manson Construction to remove a derelict dock near the intersection of the Broadkill River and the Roosevelt Inlet. The dock was deemed a hazard to navigation due to its location and would become a further hazard as it degrades and parts of it would begin to break off and float in local waterways.

Related Documents

Statewide Dredging Policy Framework (2001)

Rehoboth Bay Sediment Management Plan and Appendices (2007)