In March, the Coast Guard removed the two navigational buoys they usually drop at the mouth of the creek at this time of year.
Instead, after a crew measured the waterway’s depth to be less than 4 feet, officials posted white signs affixed to wood pilings that say: “Danger – Shoal.”
The channel must be 5 feet deep to be considered safe for boat travel, so the move has been likened to closing the creek, which affects 12 businesses and about 50 jobs.
The potential danger to recreational boaters is that they can be left stranded if their boats run aground, the Coast Guard has said. Or, in cases where a vessel is traveling at a high speed, boaters can be ejected and suffer injuries or be killed.
But the danger to the three marinas, and a fourth that plans to open, is financial, as boaters may not want to visit the businesses at the creek if they perceive it’s unsafe to do so.
So Supervisor Frank Principi, D-Woodbridge, and a coalition of community members and federal, state and local officials have been working on the issue.
“It’s a great example of the community coming together,” Principi said.
He said the plan is to have dredging equipment in the water by September, and that the job will take about six weeks.