Public meeting held on Grays Harbor dredging
Approximately 50 people last night heard from the US Army Corps of Engineers about a plan to dredge the Grays Harbor navigational channel an additional 2 feet, and the impacts it may have.
The Corps have proposed deepening the channel in the Harbor from the current -36” down to -38”. According to project lead Josh Jackson, this would allow more opportunity for vessel traffic at the Port of Grays Harbor. This project is not to facilitate new commodities or vessels, only allowing for more traffic as the Port continues to grow.
According to a draft supplemental environmental impact statement, the purpose of the dredging would be to “reduce navigation transportation costs for the existing and projected future traffic” of the Port. The need they say is to open up opportunities. At -36”, and the navigational windows, deep draft vessels coming in have to be partially loaded or experience tidal delays due to the insufficient depth.
In the draft document, the possibilities of crude by rail are factored in, although a separate draft shows little change in the overall benefit of the dredging if crude does not come to Grays Harbor said Colonel Bruce Estok.
The Corps maintains the waterway now by dredging the deep draft channel annually at an average cost of $9 million, removing an average annual volume of about 1.7 million cubic yards of material. By deepening another 2 feet, this would require a one time removal of 1,7,52,000 cubic yards of material and an annual increase of 107,000 cubic yards. The total project costs would be $20,385,000.
During public comments, local oyster farmer Brady Engvall, of Bradys Oysters, spoke out against the dredging, saying that when they originally dredged to -36” he saw damage to local oyster beds, and his fear is that dredging again will have an even larger impact on local growers.
The draft reevaluation report, draft supplemental EIS and appendices are available to review on line at: http://1.usa.gov/MS6jUw or through Seattle District’s website http://www.nws.usace.army.ml by clicking on “Grays Harbor Navigation” under the “Most Requested” column.
The Corps is accepting public comment on the report and EIS until March 24. Once a Final Environmental Impact Statement is available, another 30 day comment period will be available.
Full meeting materials are available at http://1.usa.gov/MS6jUw