(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay (copy)

A great blue heron perches on a piling on White Creek in Millville. Local boaters who use the waterway are concerned about changes to the Coast Guard channel markers, from directional markers to ones that only warn of shoals.

Nearly two months after local boaters started wondering why red and green directional markers in area waterways were replaced with “Danger Shoal” signs, and called for dredging a channel back into Whites Creek for safe navigation, DNREC has announced a July 28 meeting to discuss dredging the waterway.

The meeting, a virtual session by Zoom videoconference, is planned for 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 28, “to discuss the upcoming White Creek maintenance dredging project in Sussex County,” according to a DNREC news release. See de.gov/dnrecmeetings for details.

“Since White Creek was last dredged in the early 2000s, shoaling has increasingly impacted navigation in the waterway that connects Indian River Bay to the Assawoman Canal, and ultimately Little Assawoman Bay. The project is currently in the design phase and an alternatives analysis is also under way to identify suitable beneficial uses for dredged material generated by the project to restore and enhance coastal wetland areas close to the waterway,” the news release states.

At the meeting, information about the waterway management program will be provided. Questions can be submitted in advance. Call the Division of Watershed Stewardship at (302) 739-9921.

In May, Michael Globetti, media relations manager for DNREC, told the Coastal Point that DNREC was in the planning and design stage of a potential dredging project for White Creek but that it was too early to say when and at what cost.

Also at that time, Bethany Bay resident, and boater, Don Shope told the Coastal Point that he and fellow boaters wanted to “shed light on this situation, because it’s dangerous.”

“Not only do the boaters need the channel markers, but for property owners, to not have a channel in there that is deep enough — all of our property values will go down if this is not maintained and boaters can’t use it. There will be a significant uproar once people know about it,” Shope said.

“I’m pleased that citizens’ concerns have been heard in order to bring about this meeting,” Shope said this week, after learning about the July 28 meeting.

“While I’m sure we will hear that the dredging project has been under consideration for some time, concerned citizens need to continue to press officials to make this a priority. I hope that our need for urgent attention to this matter will accelerate this timetable.

“We must increase public awareness and pressure and not be placated by well-intentioned meetings and discussions that result in no meaningful actions,” Shope said.

Local boaters have been urging boat slip owners, residents of White’s Creek Manor and other homeowners’ associations along White Creek to contact elected officials to get the directional markers in area waterways returned since they were removed and replaced with “Danger Shoal” signs.

A shoal is a bar or bank, under water, made by sand or covered by it. Shoals can rise to close to the surface of the water.

Staff Reporter

Veteran news reporter Susan Canfora has written for many newspapers and held positions ranging from managing editor to her favorite, news reporter. She joined the Coastal Point in June 2019. She teaches college writing, tutors and professionally edits.