After 1.1 million cubic yards of sediment removed, harbor district says shoaling emergency is over

More than 1 million cubic yards of sediment has been removed from Humboldt Bay through dredging this year. (Times-Standard file)
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The following is a press release from the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District:

Over the last several months, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers removed approximately 1.1 million cubic yards of sediment from the entrance channel of Humboldt Bay; the U.S. Coast Guard redeployed the navigational buoys; and the shipping draft restrictions have been removed. In January and February 2019, Humboldt Bay experienced significant sediment deposits in the entrance channel near buoy # 9 which resulted in extremely dangerous shoaling conditions and the closure of Humboldt Bay to commercial shipping. The Harbor District, Humboldt County, State, and federal governments all enacted declarations of emergencies.

The shoaling was causing breaking waves to occur inside the Bay at a particularly bad area for local fisherman known as “Rock and Roll Alley”. Larry Oetker, Executive Director of the Harbor District, said boats entering and leaving the Bay were forced to take these waves board side which made the crab pots and boats susceptible to tipping. We are very fortunate that no one was injured. “We owe the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Congressman Jarred Huffman, and Leroy Zerlang a debt of gratitude for all the extra effort they put into removing the hazardous conditions. The Bay is back in business.”

The Harbor District and Harbor Safety Committee are currently working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to define a long-term solution to the Bay’s sediment problem and plans are underway to make repairs to the North and South Jetties. Design and permitting work is happening now and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is tentatively scheduled to begin much needed repair work on the North Jetty in 2020 and the South Jetty in 2021.

In other dredging news, the Harbor District awarded a contract to dredge portions of Woodley Island Marina and Fields Landing Boat Yard to the Dutra Group. Dredging is expected to start by mid- September and go through October 15th. This is the first time that these areas have been dredged in over 10 years and are part of the Harbor District’s long-term strategy to improve port infrastructure that is required for the shipping, commercial fishing and recreational boating communities.

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