One of the critical survival needs of any waterfront facility or business is water depth that is conducive to their businesses. If it’s a deep water port handling cargo and major shipping, the current standards are now in excess of 40 feet and even 55’ feet such as in New York Harbor. Without that safe depth, ships will go elsewhere and laden ships need the extra depth for maneuvering and safety.
The smaller recreational harbors used by non-commercial boating and the fishing charter boats are fine with ambient depths of 10 feet or greater. Needless to say, if a boat can’t reach the dock or maneuver safely, another port or facility will become home to them rather quickly. Dredging is simple, you reach down and grab a bucket of the bottom and pile it on a barge and relocate the barge-full to one of the designated Long Island Sound disposal sites. That’s the easy part. Getting the permits from DEEP to move the project forward, finding a contractor that has the capabilities, equipment, and time, and especially finding the funds to complete the project is where the hang-ups lie.
Today the state Bond Commission allocated over $20 million to dredging projects around the state that will help keep our navigation channels and waterways open. However, more can be done to help our small marinas, starting with the Clean Marina program.
The Connecticut Clean Marina program, a 10-year-old initiative, designated those marine facilities that have gone the extra mile in operating and maintaining their facility to the highest standards. They suffer site inspections, permit compliance, and other exhaustive examinations before being designated as a Clean Marina. The only physical reward now is the possibility of a 10 percent grant-in-aid for their dredging project if H.B. 6528, An Act Concerning Clean Marinas, is successful. This bill may fund up to 10 percent of the cost of a dredging project as well and giving the facility priority ranking for the grants.
With a bit of luck, H.B. 6528 will move forward and funding may get the nod. Let’s keep an eye on things for a deeper, cleaner Connecticut waterfront.
Today’s post is written by Grant Westerson, president of the Connecticut Marine Trades Association