The water levels of Neabsco Creek in the Woodbridge area of Northern Virginia are too low, a marine survey confirmed last week, supporting an earlier decision by the U.S. Coast Guard to warn away boaters with “danger” signs at the waterway’s entrance.
Neabsco Creek, a federal navigation channel, is authorized to a depth of five feet, but a survey by the Army Corps of Engineers two weeks ago showed depths ranging from 1.4 feet to 4.9 feet along the centerline in most of the waterway, said Sarah Gross, a spokeswoman for the Army Corps of Engineers.
“Anything below 5 feet is not to the depth authorized to ensure safe clearance for boaters” and any other users, Gross said.
That means, the Coast Guard can’t remove the “danger shoal” signs it installed in March, warning people about the shallow conditions. The signs have baffled business owners and workers who had argued the water level had not changed and who fear the signs will cripple their business, right at the start of boating season. Those familiar with the waters say they haven’t seen any dramatic changes in depth since last season.
The creek has not been dredged in two decades, and just like many other small water channels with a shoaling problem, it does not rank as a priority for federal dredging funds that generally go to larger channels such as the Baltimore Harbor.
Local, state and federal officials last week said they were seeking alternatives in order to restore the normal navigational aids on the creek, including finding money for dredging to guarantee the economic stability of the businesses, including three marinas, and the 50 workers who depend on the waterway.
Prince William has appropriated $750,000 for dredging, Supervisor Frank Principi (D-Woodbridge) said…
…Principi, who has been advocating on behalf of the businesses, said the Corps of Engineers survey also showed up to 7 foot depths in parts of the channel. He said the community is already pursuing a procurement process to contract for the dredging….