A contractor will be hired soon to begin unclogging waterways in Sea Pines, with most of the work expected to be completed before the annual RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing, the president of a Hilton Head Island dredging association says.
South Island Dredging Association president Jack Brinkley said the group of boat-slip owners and Sea Pines residents have been negotiating terms with a contractor to begin work in November.
Brinkley would not name the contractor, but said it has "good credentials." The contractor has been approved to perform the work by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to a corps spokesman.
The spokesman did not know the name of the contractor. A corps project manager with that information could not be reached for comment Friday.
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Brinkley would not say who else submitted bids for the project and how much the work would cost.
"Negotiations have not been completed," he said. "That's what I can say right now. And hopefully, we'll have more information soon."
The association is on a tight deadline. For dredging to be completed by the RBC Heritage, which will be April 14 to 20 at Harbour Town Golf Links in Sea Pines, work needs to begin early this winter.
Sediment has accumulated over the past decade, making the Harbour Town Yacht Basin too shallow for boats to navigate during low tide and causing the marina to lose business, said Rob Bender, director of recreation and marine operations for Sea Pines Resort. The basin also is impassible for the large yachts that provide a backdrop for the PGA Tour tournament.
Tournament director Steve Wilmot said the yacht basin helps set the tournament apart from other PGA Tour events and is valuable to marketing the tournament and the island.
Boeing's plans to wine and dine guests aboard its company yacht ran aground in 2012 because the yacht basin couldn't accommodate the boat. Wilmot said Boeing officials haven't determined whether they will try to bring the yacht to next year's tournament.
But he was pleased dredging would soon be underway.
"Everything is right on track, and the important thing is, it's getting done," Wilmot said Friday.
State and federal regulators issued permits this summer to clear Harbour Town, Braddock Cove and Baynard Cove creeks. The permits allow dredging from Nov. 1 to April 30. The state's permits are valid for five years; the federal permit is good for a decade.
The dredging association plans to pump nearly 300,000 cubic yards of sediment from the clogged waterways to a 100-acre site in the mouth of Calibogue Sound, about a mile from the toe of Hilton Head Island and 1.5 miles from Daufuskie Island. The strong currents of the sound should flush the sediment out to sea, according to corps officials.
It's the first private dredging project in the state allowed to dump dredge spoil in inshore waters, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.
The project will be privately funded. The dredging association will pay about 90 percent of the costs, and Sea Pines Resort will pay the rest.
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