Center for Inland Bays working to remove debris from bays

A Delaware Center for the Inland Bays committee is focused on a broader mission — the “wise use and enhancement” of the Inland Bays. The Water Use Plan Implementation Committee, a standing committee of the Board of Directors, informally called WUPIC, is charged with minimizing environmental impacts, avoiding user conflicts and improving conditions related to water-use activities in Delaware’s Inland Bays.

According to CIB Executive Director Chris Bason, “After a success in 2013 working with partners to remove derelict pilings and docks from the mouth of the Lewes & Rehoboth Canal, we began looking for other navigational hazards in the Bays that posed risks to recreational boaters.”

The community of White House Beach expressed concern about abandoned pilings and a partially submerged bulkhead at the mouth of the West Marina entrance to White House Beach on Indian River Bay.

The bulkhead originally served as a 180-foot wave break for a navigation channel that is shared by Pot Nets Bayside Marina and White House Beach Marina. But, in recent years, the bulkhead has been partially submerged and difficult to see at high tide, and had become considered a danger to boaters entering and leaving the channel.

There are more than 50 marinas on the Inland Bays and, during the peak of the tourist season more than 1,100 vessels may be on the water at once. More than 300,000 fishing trips are taken every year around the Inland Bays, and many of those are from boats. Well-marked and maintained waterways are considered key to maintain boater safety and support that sector of Delaware’s tourism economy, according to the CIB.

The project was endorsed by WUPIC and work began in late May, according to Roy Miller, project manager. Miller said, “The removal and disposal of the waste was done by local contractor Droney Marine Construction Inc., and the project took less than a week, with some stops and starts due to weather.”

Funding for the project was provided by the Division of Watershed Stewardship of the Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control. The cost of the removal was $9,500, and it generated about 11 tons of debris. “That’s about 43 cents a pound to give local boaters a safer day on the bays,” said Sally Boswell, education and outreach coordinator for the CIB.