Dredging and Deposition in Force Near Barnegat Lighthouse

State Working to Deepen Four Channels
Dec 13, 2017
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

As the snow turned to sleet on Saturday, Dec. 9, the scene at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park had altered in another way: flexible pipe slumped up out of the inlet and over the concrete walkway that in any other month ushers sightseers and fishermen along the water.

The pumping of dredged material from the Barnegat Light Stake Channel, located back at the bayside boat ramp, was starting. Earthmoving equipment had already carved out a containment basin in the sand for the slurry.

“We’ll be out of here in two to three weeks,” a state Department of Transportation official said to a passerby who noted that the park view was not as nice as expected.

The passerby had been referring to the pelting rain; the official was talking about the Dec. 31 end date when the around-the-clock work is contracted to be finished by Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Corp.

What observers also saw as the weekend progressed was the unusual sight of the dredged slurry spewing out of the pipe onto the park grounds south of the walkway. It was the first of 10,000 cubic yards that will go in the bermed five-acre discharge area.

One of the questions that the public is asking is how the work will affect access to and around the state park. The answer is twofold – the park will be open during regular hours as usual, but access to the walkway will be affected while the work continues.

“The project will not affect park hours or lighthouse hours and should be finished by the end of the year,” said a New Jersey State Park Service press release issued by the DEP on the Facebook page, “NJ State Parks, Forests and Historic Sites.”

However, regarding the walkway, “access on the walkway will be restricted at the point where the pipe crosses the walkway, approximately 100 feet from the lighthouse. There will be a ramp over the inflow pipe on the beach for pedestrian traffic to access the eastern part of the park.”

The dredging will alleviate shoaling that was made worse by Superstorm Sandy. The current work at the Barnegat Light Stake Channel will help at the borough boat slips between Eighth and 10th streets, and beyond, past a boat rental business.

Some on social media were asking why the color of the material was intermittently blackish. They also questioned whether it contained debris from the bottom. State officials reminded that the black color is due to organic material, and that the sand is tested for environmental standards.

The SandPaper asked the state DOT, which is administering the overall four-channel dredging, and the Department of Environmental Protection, whose division operates the state park, for information on testing of the material.

“These materials are tested as a matter of routine,” assured Lawrence Hajna, DEP press officer. “The same unfounded concerns were raised when we were moving materials that were pushed by Superstorm Sandy from the beaches back into the bays. It’s just organic materials mixed with sand, plus the sand is super-saturated with water. It will dry out and bleach out over time.”

The deposition process near the lighthouse also includes outfall piping that is returning the water portion of the mixture into the inlet. The piping runs over the jetty east of the walkway, into the inlet.

Said Steve Schapiro, DOT director of communications, “The material was tested prior to the start of dredging and reviewed by DEP as part of the routine permit process. There is no oil or ‘rusty debris’ in the dredged material.

“The material being removed from the Barnegat Light Stake Channel is more than 90 percent sand.

“There is some naturally occurring organic material trapped in the sand. This often makes the material look black, and there sometimes is a smell like rotten eggs (hydrogen sulfide reaction). This is typical and expected. The smell will dissipate and the material will lighten in color quickly once it dries out and (will) look just like the rest of the beach.

“After it dries out, it will be graded flat to match the rest of the beach.”

Other Area Channels

Still in Progress

The four channels in the overall dredging project are: Double Creek Mainland Channel, Double Creek Inlet, High Bar Harbor Channel and Barnegat Light Stake Channel. The state park is set to receive part but not all of this material.

Schapiro said on Tuesday, Dec. 12, that dredging is yet to be finished on channels other than Barnegat Light Stake Channel.

“Once the Barnegat Light Stake Channel is complete, the dredge will move to the eastern end of the Double Creek Inlet Channel, which is also more than 90 percent sand,” Schapiro said. “This material will be placed in the same location on the beach. In total there will be less than 10,000 cubic yards of sand added to the beach.

“All other channels contain material that is finer grained, and this material is being pumped to the Oyster Creek CDF (containment area) in Lacey Township.

“The High Bar Harbor channel will be dredged following the Double Creek Inlet Channel.”

The dredging must be finished by Dec. 31, according to environmental regulations. The project permit states that dredging is not allowed between Jan. 1 and May 31 to protect the early life of stages of winter flounder. Also, dredging is prohibited from April 15 to Sept. 30 due to DEP requirements to protect submerged aquatic vegetation.

A 52-page packet of maps and plan drawings showed last spring that the pipeline would be submerged except at four points where booster pumps are needed.

Removing about 43,000 cubic yards from each channel, the work will result in the new channels dredged to a depth of at least 6 feet below mean low water, although some spots may be closer to 7 feet, plans showed.

— Maria Scandale


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