Untamed Lowcountry

Engineers give new details about $12.7M Daufuskie, Jekyll dredging. Here’s what we know

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include more specific information about the location of the dredging based on updated information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The $12.7 million dredging project scheduled for around Daufuskie Island this year will vacuum up underwater material southwest of the island and relocate it to a designated site on land in an effort to maintain the Intracoastal Waterway, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Savannah.

The Department of Defense announced the project’s contract Friday, and the Corps provided updated details Wednesday.

The Island Packet reported the contract on Friday based on a Department of Defense announcement, but Billy Birdwell, the senior public affairs officer for the corps, said Wednesday that there was some incorrect information in that release.

Work is scheduled to start mid-February on the Field’s Cut waterway — a man-made channel which runs south of Daufuskie Island toward Savannah, Birdwell said Wednesday.

The waterway around Daufuskie is “authorized to be 12 feet deep,” Birdwell said Monday.

“In some places, (the channel) can be as low as 5 feet,” he said of current conditions at low tide.

“We just hit the really bad spots. We don’t do the whole Intracoastal Waterway because it doesn’t need it,” Birdwell said.

The project will be done by a cutterhead dredge, which will pump the dredge material through pipes to the disposal site.

Birdwell said that Daufuskie Island residents may see another dredge in the distance because of another dredging project, which is a part of the Savannah Harbor entrance in the Atlantic Ocean.

He said those projects are not related.

Cottrell Contracting Corporation, a company based in Chesapeake, Va., will do the dredging work near Daufuskie as well as around Jekyll Island in Georgia.

Near Jeykll, Birdwell said the corps will be doing a pilot project where the dredge collects sediment and sprays it “in a very thin layer” over the surrounding marsh because “we don’t have a place on or near Jekyll Island to dispose of that material.”

Both projects are expected to be finished by Aug. 2.

“I compare (it) to resurfacing a highway,” Birdwell said. “It’s an inconvenience, but it’s better when its done.”