Gov. Haley praises Sea Pines dredging project

Dredging Harbour Town Yacht Basin and other waterways in Sea Pines will not only allow boats to pass more easily, it also will remove impediments to business, Gov. Nikki Haley said Wednesday.

Haley met with state and local officials at Harbour Town for what she called a celebration of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' approval of the dredging permit for Harbour Town, Baynard Cove Creek and Braddock Cove Creek, where South Beach Marina is located.

"The benefits of this permit are going to be increased tourism, ... increased jobs ... (and) an increase to the economy," Haley said.

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, according to Sea Pines officials. It also is impossible for the largest yachts that provide a backdrop for the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing to dock there. Sea Pines officials expect the dredging to be completed by next year's tournament in April.

On July 3, the corps signed off on the permit to clear the three waterways. The project received the required permits in April from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Haley called the project's approval "a perfect example of what we can do in South Carolina when we work together, when we get all the players together, and when we say, 'Let's get this thing done.'"

She praised the cooperation among the corps, DHEC and the South Island Dredging Association -- a group of boat-slip owners and Sea Pines residents heading the project.

Their plan is 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 to be allowed to dump dredge spoil in inshore waters, according to Catherine Templeton, DHEC executive director.

The project had raised concerns among regulators and environmental groups last winter. But Templeton said the permits have not been appealed.

DHEC's two permits are valid for five years. The Army Corps' permit is good for a decade.

The permits allow dredging from Nov. 1 to April 30.

Dredging association president Jack Brinkley said he hopes work will begin Nov. 1. Brinkley said he began meeting Tuesday with potential dredging contractors.

The contractor that is chosen will also need approval from state and federal regulators.

The project will be privately funded -- a fact Haley called "beautiful." The dredging association will pay about 90 percent of the costs, and Sea Pines Resort will pay the remainder. Project cost estimates were not available Wednesday.

Follow reporter Brian Heffernan at twitter.com/IPBG_Brian.

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