Dredging Inland Bays waterways essential

April 21, 2014

For as long as any of us can remember, the Indian River has been an integral part of our lives. It’s a beautiful body of water surrounded by numerous upscale communities as well as tiny waterfront villages that have stood the test of time. There are marinas and docking facilities that enable boaters the awesome opportunity to crab or fish inside the bay or to navigate out to deeper waters by boating under our spectacular new Indian River Inlet bridge.

Most of our families and friends have practically grown up on this body of water. It’s where our kids went tubing or learned to waterski and it’s where we’ve all gone crabbing and clamming for many years.

However, there is a long-standing problem in several creeks and waterways that connect boaters to the Indian River, including Massey’s Landing, Hunter’s Pointe and Pepper and White creeks. The lack of dredging along these waterways has created huge problems for boaters. It reached the point where the Coast Guard initially said they couldn’t maintain the navigational markers in these areas due to shallow water depths.

They originally planned to remove 18 navigational markers in the Ocean View area creeks, but after many of you contacted me and with my office’s urging, they have decided to return the markers.

Still, this is a huge problem that needs to be fixed. Many of these waterways are navigable only at high tide. For many years, our federal government has funded beach replenishment up and down the coast to the tune of millions of taxpayer dollars. The time has come for our Congressional delegation to find the money necessary to dredge Pepper and White creeks and other areas of our Inland Bays.

A large portion of our economy downstate depends on tourism. It’s no wonder when you look at our pristine beaches. Those tourism dollars keep many businesses afloat and have helped lower Delaware become a mecca of world-class shopping, fantastic restaurants and top-notch entertainment.

Boating is a serious recreational investment for many residents and a major tourism draw to our area, supplementing the tourist attractions in our beach towns. If we don’t maintain the Indian River like we should and find the money to dredge the areas that have long needed it, we jeopardize losing so much - not just tourism dollars, but a way of life for many. It’s time for this to happen.

John C. Atkins
state representative
41st District

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