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Little River dredging project set to begin


Dredging gets underway in the Little River off Route 9 next week with multiple goals for the waterway and a nearby wildlife area.

A DNREC contractor will begin work on dredging 79,000 cubic yards of material from the river next week. The million-dollar project aims to widen and deepen a boating channel that was last dredged in the 1980s.

"Basically it's going to improve boater access in the Little River, at low tides in particular," said Chuck Williams, a planner with DNREC's Division of Watershed Stewardship. He says the Little Creek fire company also hopes to keep their rescue boat in the river once it's dredged.

And the material dredged from the bottom of the river will be put to use raising the bottom of a marshy pond in the nearby Little Creek Wildlife Area. Jeremey Ashe manages DNREC's Delaware Bayshore Habitat Restoration. He says they need to be able to periodically draw down the pond to create moist soil for new plants and feed migrating shorebirds -- but right now, it's not shallow enough.

"Currently, when it rains out there, it kind of just floods up. It'll evaporate, but then every time it rains it'll flood up with six inches of water. So there's not a way to manage the pond out there for mosquitos, so that's another aspect for wanting to raise the pond bottoms also," said Ashe.

It's one of many Delaware ponds that Ashe says are giving way to open water and could use this kind of restoration.


Overall, Ashe believes the project offers a great opportunity to address a series of issues simultaneously.


"We have this really unique situation where we have a river that needs dredging for economy and boater access, but at the same time, right next door there's an impoundment that is really wanting a sediment source to raise its elevations to have a restoration project," said Ashe.


The million-dollar project will last through September. It'll also clear the way for DNREC to build a public boat ramp in river down the line.