Another Heritage golf tournament, and another round of lamenting Harbour Town Yacht Basin's gradually filling up with mud.
A dredging solution is out there, but it eludes the marina's owners in part because its fortunes have been linked to other less critical Sea Pines waterways and marinas.
Harbour Town's ability -- or inability -- to get dredged was not an issue before the creation of the South Island Dredging Association. For decades before that, the marina was dredged regularly by its owners, usually on a five-year schedule. It's been nine years now since the marina was last dredged.
Of the estimated 323,700 cubic yards of material to be dredged from the areas included under the dredging association umbrella, only 65,100 cubic yards lie in the Harbour Town marina and entry channel, according to a 2008 engineering survey. That's just 20 percent of the total volume.
Never miss a local story.
The association is pursuing a plan to dump dredge spoil in Calibogue Sound, an idea it abandoned in 2001 when it met resistance from state and federal environmental agencies. Cost is the driving factor.
Regulators are concerned that material dumped in the sound could cover marine life on the bottom of the sound or drift elsewhere, harming water quality and marine life. It also could be contaminated with heavy metals and other toxins from boat engines and other activity.
The association has been asked to confirm that sediment testing done in 2000 and 2008 is still accurate and that it be more precise in determining potential harm to endangered species, fish habitat and nearby marshes. The dredging association is working on that request.
But if approval is slow in coming or the project's permitting is challenged in court, we could face the same concerns about the marina a year from now that we face today.
We urge Harbour Town private and commercial interests to consider again separating their dredging project so that its completion is on firmer and faster footing.
Unfortunately, a plan proffered this past year didn't succeed. Calibogue Cay property owners said no to Harbour Town property owners expanding Calibogue Cay's dredge disposal site in Sea Pines to accommodate spoil from Harbour Town on a one-time basis.
But that shouldn't mean giving up on a solo Harbour Town project. Some people have suggested finding a site in the Sea Pines Forest Preserve for Harbour Town dredge spoil. At the very least, a Plan B should be under way even as the association seeks permission to dump spoil in Calibogue Sound.
If the critical worry is Harbour Town Yacht Basin's silting in, then find a solution for Harbour Town.