State workers and contractors cleaning up storm debris in Barnegat Bay are entering “what could be the biggest chunk of the project” as they move toward clearing new shoals and sandbars left by superstorm Sandy, a top state environmental official said recently.
The goal now is to have most of that dredging done by June and completed by mid-August, said Jane Kozinski, an assistant commissioner with the state Department of Environmental Protection, who spoke to the Long Beach Island-Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce.
The DEP and Federal Emergency Management Agency are haggling over which dredging sites will be eligible for federal disaster aid to pick up the costs, Kozinski said.
FEMA guidelines define when debris pickups qualify for federal reimbursement — specifically, wreckage caused by Sandy that poses a continuing risk to public safety or to property, or can impede the region’s economic recovery from the storm, she said.
So DEP workers have to show that targeted areas were filled with sand propelled by the massive Oct. 29 storm surge. The state has some updated pre-storm charting thanks to the Barnegat Bay restoration project, which engaged a team from the U.S. Geological Survey to chart the bay last year.
But the history of other shoals along the coast may be harder to document.
“There are some areas that are obvious, like the big shoal behind Lavallette,” Kozinski said. “Some of the shoals in front of the mainland creeks are obvious, too.”
The DEP and the Marine Trades Association of New Jersey are energetically publicizing that “the bay is open” for boaters this summer. Keith Gunsten, a former state marine police officer who now teaches boating safety classes, said the DEP’s Aids to Navigation group is moving buoys and markers in state channels to reflect shifts after the storm.
“Use your head. If you’re going through an unfamiliar area, slow down,” Gunsten said. Boaters who spot debris should call the DEP at 1-877-WARN-DEP, provide the best location they can – Global Positioning System coordinates will lead contractors to the exact spot.
Waterfront property owners who still have damaged docks or other property in the water should “make sure it’s tied down,” because contractors have been moving through lagoons and other areas on a tight schedule, and will remove anything that looks like unclaimed wreckage, Kozinski said.
Northern Barnegat Bay has had the biggest lode of debris, with some 17,000 cubic yards removed by contractor CrowderGulf so far — including about 30 boats, three cars and three houses near Mantoloking, Kozinski said.
From central Barnegat Bay into Delaware Bay, contractor AshBritt and its New Jersey partner Conti Construction have recovered between 8,000 and 9,000 cubic yards, and are working on four houses in Delaware Bay this week, she said.
Some dredging projects are being delayed by the spring arrival of endangered bird species, like the red knot and piping plover, that feed or nest on beaches, Kozinski said.
But the aim is to have all the storm sediment moved by mid-August, Kozinski said.
“Everyone should feel positive about this summer season,” she said. “It will be different. But we’ll be OK.”
Source: ocean.edu, May 27, 2013