Masseys Ditch Dredge Project


Masseys Ditch Dredging Project Channel details
Masseys Ditch Dredging Project Channel details.

Massey’s Ditch is a federally recognized channel maintained by DNREC”S watershed stewardship.  The workshop tonight about the Massey’s Ditch dredge project was informative.  Everyone needs this dredging done for a number of reasons: health, safety, and economic impact to name a few..  The entire inland bay system could use a good cleaning.  This is a good start, because you have to start somewhere.  This project will also take care of another issue and then some in the long run.  The sand will be pumped into the surf on the north side beach in Delaware Seashore State park.


Timeline for the Massey’s Ditch dredging project

 Sand naturally moves north along Delaware’s beaches.   Rebuilding the sandbars will help with storm surge and could definitely help with fishing.  Structure is necessary for surf fishing.  Rebuilding the sandbars with this sediment could for once be beneficial.  Instead of building a beach on top of the beach, and smothering the old beach.  The sand will migrate north with the currents and naturally rebuild beaches and sand bars.  This will add to the ongoing sand relocation program at Indian River Inlet, which moves on average 80 to 100,000 cubic yards of sand a year.  This is usually pumped onto the beach to build the dunes up along the bridge. 


masseys ditch dredge project
The dredge project areas and the pipes (Black Lines) location which will cross the bay to the beaches

  Senator Gerald Hocker attended.  “This project is very important, the inland bays mean everything to this economy and the people surrounding them.  We need to work on rebuilding our marshes, the project at Pepper Creek was very successful.  The dredged material was sprayed on the marsh and the grass (marsh) grew back.  Marsh renourishment would protect our shorelines around the inland bays, allow us to keep the channels (maintained) cleaned out, and help clean the waters.  Dredging needs to be a priority for all of us.  A full-time project to clean out these problem areas needs to be addressed.  Then we need a program to maintain and keep up with the results of those projects.” 


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Sand will be pumped into the surf line in this area of Coin Beach

 I know there are a lot of issues around the inland bays that need attention, and dredging these areas is necessary.  It has become a safety, health and economic impact issue.  I hear about this all of the time and recently I have been asking people what they think.  Everyone wants the inland bays cleaned up and dredged for boat traffic.   The project is budgeted for roughly 4.2 million.
Health … Because of the 24/7 swim advisory, that water is not the best to hang out in all day.  As the bays fill in they can not flush as well with new water.  Then the water advisory  situation increases and gets worse.  We have a lot of closed areas to shellfishing, pollution and bacteria are issues.
Safety …  People getting thrown from boats hitting sandbars, that can result in injury or death.  You could make a fortune taking bets on which boat is going to hit a sandbar next.   

massseys ditch, delaware, sussex county, sandbar life, rehoboth bay, indian river bay
Sandbar Outside of Massey’s Ditch between Indian RIver Bay and Rehoboth Bay .. photo by Chris Driscoll

Economic Impact .. If you couldn’t use the bays with your boat, or watercraft imagine how many businesses would be affected by that?  The economic impact from boating has to be a very large number, fishing is roughly 130 million a year for recreational in Delaware.   I do know a few of the inland bay marinas have seen a drop in gas sales.  It is hard to get around at low tide, everyone is buying pontoon boats.  There are many jobs and businesses connected with boating.  A decrease in boaters would be felt in our communities.  In some cases it already has been felt.  

As much as I hate beach replenishment I can get behind using the existing sediment to rebuild what we need in front of our beaches … sand bars.  Besides that is where a majority of this sand came from  So long as it is pumped into the sandbar system and not onto the beach.  If we don’t have any storms that take out the dune line they will use all of the sediment in the sandbar system.  From there mother nature will move the sand north, to the point eventually. 

Fish On!

Rich King

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