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Murrells Inlet: Dredging project stays within budget

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Estimates for the cost of dredging Murrells Inlet are within Georgetown County’s budget, according to County Administrator Sel Hemingway.

Members of Georgetown County Council were told this week the project will not cost more than the $10.3 million budgeted from proceeds of the additional 1-cent sales tax that began last May. Council members approved a memorandum of agreement for the Army Corps of Engineers to accept the county’s money for the work.

“It’s comforting to see that our private sector consultants agree with the corps on budget estimates,” Hemingway said. “I am confident we can complete the project within estimates.”

He said engineers propose using a mechanical dewatering process rather than an upland spoils area for dredge materials. Engineers say dewatering the spoils using advanced technology will provide more flexibility than an impoundment in addition to being quicker and cheaper.

The plan calls for sand removed from the inlet near the jetties to be pumped onto Garden City Beach beginning as early as September.

The county also plans to use funds from the local sales tax to dredge the shipping channel through Winyah Bay to the port of Georgetown. This week, the Corps of Engineers released its budget request for fiscal 2017. It shows $500,000 for the port.

U.S. 7th District Rep. Tom Rice, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the money is for maintenance of spoils sites and testing of the sediment in the channels. That’s needed to determine how it will disposed of.

“Last year, the Georgetown port received $2 million in funding. This year, we were able to continue the Army Corps’ commitment to this project,” Rice said.

The port was last dredged in 2008.

The upcoming budget for the corps’ Charleston district also includes $16 million for beach renourishment in southern Horry County.

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