By MADDY VITALE
A giant excavator sitting atop a barge is using its claw to scoop out black muck from lagoons and channels in Ocean City’s Snug Harbor.
Dredging of Ocean City’s channels and lagoons has remained a top priority for the city administration. The city has been spending millions of dollars in the past few years for a program to clear out the channels and lagoons.
And the latest project is underway to remove muddy sediment clogging the channels and lagoons to make boat travel easier and provide cleaner waterways.
Year-round Snug Harbor resident Sean Barnes said in an interview Tuesday that he is pleased that the city has begun dredging in his area.
Barnes, who has two boat slips, one for his sailboat and the other for his powerboat, said that dredging is much-needed in his area, and despite the city’s efforts, the lagoon off Bay Avenue between Eighth and Ninth streets continually clogs with muck.
Barnes pointed out that dredging in Snug Harbor over the years has dramatically improved navigation for boaters and created clean waters for people to raft in.
“In the summer people are floating in the lagoons and rafting. they never did that before,” he said.
Barnes, who has been in Snug Harbor since 1999 and has his captain’s license, said that another concern is property values, if the lagoons are sediment-choked making it too shallow for people to take their boats out.
Trident Marine Piling Co. of Longport was awarded a $1 million contract in the fall to dredge Snug Harbor, Glen Cove, Sunny Harbor and South Harbor.
“Trident Marine has started work on a contract that includes maintenance dredging at the mouths of Snug Harbor, Glen Cove, Sunny Harbor and South Harbor,” City spokesman Doug Bergen said. “The work at all locations will be completed before the end of March.”
Bergen explained that the work at Snug Harbor also includes removal of a defunct underwater utility cable.
Snug Harbor has had a chronic buildup of sediment over the years and as Barnes said, it has been a problematic spot because of the accumulation of sediment.
Because of that, the area, requires repeated dredging by the city to make it deep enough for bayfront homeowners to enjoy their boats.
ACT Engineers Inc. of Robbinsville, N.J., the city’s dredging consultant, oversees the 2020-2021 dredging program. ACT plans to develop plans for a “sediment trap” to capture muddy sediment in Snug Harbor.
Barnes said he hopes that the city will be able to utilize a sediment trap.
“I think that will be key,” he added.
Although sediment traps have been used before at rivers, this will be the first of its kind tested in a tidal environment in New Jersey, officials have said.
Bergen noted that the “sediment trap” proposed for Snug Harbor is an important part of the project. However, it will not be done in the initial phase of dredging.
“The city still hopes to experiment with a sediment trap outside the mouth of Snug Harbor (which is north of the Ninth Street Bridge) to prevent rapid sedimentation, but all aspects of that project are not yet fully permitted,” Bergen added.