The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) is in the engineering and permitting phases of a project to dredge White Creek, an important navigation channel in the Inland Bays.
White Creek is northwest of Bethany Beach and flows south to north into Indian River Bay. It serves numerous marinas and boat ramps and connects Assawoman Canal to the bay.
DNREC has taken over responsibility for channel marking from the U.S. Coast Guard for a portion of the White Creek channel, and has placed green markers, as well as a Notice to Mariners, providing further instructions for boaters.
Since dredging last occurred in the early 2000s, shoaling has increasingly impacted navigation in the waterway.
White Creek was determined to be a top priority for dredging as part of DNREC’s data-based method to prioritize dredging projects. This process included stakeholder engagement surveys and analysis of channel depth, boater safety, and environmental considerations.
The goal of the dredging project is to improve navigation for commercial and recreational boaters that use the channel to navigate in the Inland Bays. The dredged material will be used to restore a local marsh such as those found at Holt’s Landing State Park, James Farm Ecological Preserve, or Slough’s Gut in Delaware Seashore State Park.
DNREC has engaged engineering services from Anchor QEA + Woods Hole Group Joint Venture to design the dredge project and oversee its construction.
On July 28, 2021, DNREC hosted a virtual public information session, attended by approximately 125 people, to share information and solicit questions and feedback about the project.
Information about a second public project information session to be held later in the project cycle will be available on this website when it is scheduled.
The material to be dredged consists primarily of mud (silt and clay) and some sand. This material is not suitable to place on local beaches, as was done as part of the 2020 Masseys Ditch Dredging Project.
Instead, this material is ideal for restoring degraded local marshes. The project will benefit the marsh over the long-term by providing additional sediment and elevation, imitating natural processes by applying sediment in a thin layer with the goal of helping the marsh to withstand future sea-level rise.
Restoring degraded marshes using dredged material is a common practice nationwide and has been done in Delaware.
In 2013, DNREC’s Shoreline and Waterway Management Section and Wetlands Monitoring and Assessment Program joined to implement a successful marsh restoration at the Piney Point Tract of Assawoman Wildlife Area. That project used a thin layer of material dredged from Pepper Creek.
Regionally, numerous projects in southern New Jersey have used dredged material to restore marshes.
A typical dredge project requires the following steps:
Based on the timelines and complexity of these necessary steps, DNREC is targeting a period from fall of 2022 to spring of 2023 to execute the White Creek dredging.
For more information, please contact Jesse Hayden at 302-739-9921.