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Letters: An Update, Extension, and Shift
The Whittaker Creek Channel
October 25, 2023

T
he Friends of Whittaker Creek write in with an update on channel dredging – and a potential shift of its boundaries.
With our grant approved to dredge the outside end of the Whittaker Creek channel we’ve started activity, learned some things and are now working on approval to continue as efficiently as possible. Below are some updates on dredging activity.

The first step in our process was to have the creek professionally surveyed. TI Coastal Services performed the survey which provided a very clear view of the main channel with depth contours mapped every 50 feet for the full length of the 3,162 foot long channel.

The picture of the channel told us two things: shoaling on the shoreline side of the channel was greater and longer than anticipated, meaning more material to dredge; and that moving the end of the channel farther out into the river would provide deeper water, meaning less to dredge, and hopefully, allow the channel to stay deeper for a longer period of time before dredging will be needed again.

Moving the direction of the channel by just over a degree or two does require a lot more work for approvals before we can begin the next steps of the dredging process.

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A dredging barge at work in Whittaker Creek Channel in 2020.

TI Coastal worked with us to provide a new map of the channel showing the existing channel borders as permitted by the Coastal Area Management Association (CAMA), as well as the borders of a proposed new channel. The new end of the channel is just 60 feet farther out into the river as can be seen in the new drawing. We also received dredging volume estimates for both the original channel and the proposed channel.

For the area we’re targeting to dredge, the volume is cut by over half, leaving about 4,000 cubic yards of material to dredge. This is a little more than we estimated, so we may need to ask the state to increase our grant funding. To dredge within the proposed channel lines, we need approval from CAMA. CAMA requires a Major Permit Modification request, which we are beginning to research and put together now.

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The first section of the Whittaker Creek Channel, showing the existing channel boundaries in red and the proposed boundaries in yellow.
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The second section of the Whittaker Creek Channel, showing the existing channel boundaries in red and the proposed boundaries in yellow.

Because all this will delay our targeted dredge of the channel, we’ll also be working with the Town of Oriental to extend the grant period for our work. We’ve discussed it with the State Grant authorities, and they’ve provided some guidance on how to apply for an extension.

We anticipate we won’t be able to complete actual dredging for another season. To ensure boaters can safely navigate the main channel until dredging occurs, we thought the Coast Guard may be able to help.

We contacted the Aids to Navigation Team (ANT) at the US Coast Guard Station in Ft Macon to request the Whittaker Creek channel markers be moved to coincide with the deeper water shown by TI Coastal’s survey. A couple members of the ANT team visited last week and ran the channel to witness the shoaling firsthand.

The Coast Guard reported they are not able to move the fixed marks at this time, but they said they would change Day Marker 3 to a “Danger – Shoal” marker, so it will no longer be a lateral aid, and slightly relocate Buoy 3A to drive mariners to the red marker side of the channel. This should help boaters stay in the deep part of the channel.

Thanks to all those who’ve supported this project. We’ll keep providing updates as we progress through the activities outlined above. For boaters, as always, continue to hug the red side of the channel between markers 2 and 4.

Dan Allen
Friends of Whittaker Creek
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The full channel survey with existing channel boundaries in red and proposed channel boundaries in yellow.

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