OCEAN CITY — When it comes to dredging, the city has made a breakthrough that may have other municipalities soon following in its footsteps.

Last month, the state Department of Environmental Protection informed the city it had issued its first-ever citywide dredge permit, said Carol Beske, project manager, ACT Engineers.

The city hired ACT Engineers, of Robbinsville, Mercer County, in 2015 to develop a long-term dredging plan.

“This is no small feat. It’s never been done,” Beske told a group of about 100 residents Saturday inside the Ocean City Tabernacle. “The mayor said we needed a tip-to-tip permit for the city.”

The city has long been trying to tackle more than 900,000 cubic yards of silt that has built up in the back bay, narrowing channels and causing problems for boaters.

The state also let the city’s dredging project extend an extra three months for the second consecutive year, Beske said.

“Big things are happening. We have had good accomplishments,” said Beske, who added dredging starts in July and extends through February.

Two dredging projects still have permits pending, Waterview and the Bay Bridge, Beske said. Waterview will be a big job, Beske said, and the city is very close to receiving that permit.

“They (the state) know the need for it. It is moving,” Beske said. “We have had good cooperation from the Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Environmental Protection.”

The worst-affected areas will be handled first, she said.

Some dredge spoils will be used to restore the edge of Shooting Island, she said.

“This has not been done on this scale in Ocean City,” Beske said of the restoration.

There are substantial flooding issues from 35th Street to 59th Street and ACT Engineers is aware, she said. There are ideas for addressing this, such as raising the curbs or sidewalk some inches, she said.

One resident came to the meeting to complain about the second confined disposal facility, or CDF, near 34th Street, called Site 83, where dredge spoils are stored.

She complained about trucks operating from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the most recent completed dredging season, and soot covering homes from the operation.

The city built a temporary road to the site, but the road will have to become permanent, Beske said.

“The CDF was there. There aren’t a lot of alternatives,” she said.

Eric Rosina, ACT Engineers vice president, said new CDF sites cannot be built in city limits and it is more economically feasible to empty existing sites.

Mayor Jay Gillian, who spoke at the end of the meeting, said this is not just a boating or pleasure craft issue. He was worried someone would fall into the built-up silt in the back bays and need to be rescued.

“This is very expensive, and we have to do something,” he said.

The city has pledged to spend $20 million between 2016 and 2021 to clear out its clogged back bays.

Meeting attendees received a schedule of the 2018-19 dredging program. Different types of dredging, such as hydraulic and mechanical, will take place simultaneously.

Staff Writer

Twenty years as a staff writer in the features department, specializing in entertainment and the arts at The Press of Atlantic City.

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