Corps must take inlet responsibility

July 23, 2013

Anyone who has any doubt about the seriousness of the situation at In­dian River Inlet and its new bridge needs to take a good hard look at the state-supplied aerial photograph accom­panying Ron MacArthur’s recent article about beach replenishment efforts about to begin along Delaware’s coast.

More than any other photograph or words could illustrate, that picture shows how severely the jetties at Indian River Inlet are interrupting the natural northward flow of sand along the coast. That interruption is starving the beaches north of the inlet so dras­tically that anyone who looks at the picture could only sensibly conclude that our new bridge there is already as good as gone. The situation was already dire before Hurricane Sandy scraped our coast last fall.

The storm only exacerbated an already-bad situation and illustrated just how precarious the situation had become.

A low-cost investigation would quickly reveal the neglect leading to arguably Dela­ware’s most pressing emergency issue. At this point, though, that would be a waste of money. Clearly the Army Corps of Engineers needs to be pressed to look at the looming Indian River Inlet disaster as much more than just a beach-erosion or Hurricane Sandy is­sue.

The problem is the corps-installed jetties that have been ignored for far too long, their impact, and coming up with a long-term solu­tion that will guarantee the safety and security of the bridge and our significant investment of taxpayer dollars there.

Waiting for storms to come along and their associated federal emergency dollars so we can just keep pouring sand back on the beaches is not addressing the root problem at Indian River Inlet.

The decades-long impact of the inlet jet­ties, showing significant deterioration on top of the sand-flow issues, is showing itself most acutely right now. The Army Corps of Engineers, prodded steadily and relentlessly by Delaware’s elected representatives, must finally take responsibility for Indian River Inlet and tell the public what steps it plans to take beyond moving more sand.

  • Cape Gazette editorials are considered and written by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Laura Ritter, news editor; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; and Nick Roth, sports editor.

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