Boaters traveling in the canals north of Point Lookout should be able to navigate the bay of Sea Dog Creek this summer without running aground in shallow water, officials said.
Town workers just completed a dredging project of Sea Dog Creek by shoveling out 8,000 cubic yards — about 15,000 tons — of sand from underwater.
The two-week project was completed under a permit from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to unclog access to the Great South Bay. The dredged sand and materials will be used to restore marshland and erosion, town officials said.
“The sandbars have lost depth in that area and made it difficult to navigate and dangerous for boaters,” Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen said. “This improves the natural habitat and makes the water safer. Dredging it creates more volume for the water itself.”
Sea Dog Creek became clogged by floodwaters after superstorm Sandy created a shoal of sand just north of the Loop Parkway drawbridge between the eastern end of Sea Dog Creek and Long Creek.
“The shoal was the result of Sandy’s waves coming in and moving the sandbar from south of the Loop Bridge north and ending up in the channel,” Hempstead Conservation and Waterways Commissioner Thomas Doheny said.
Town officials asked the DEC to expedite their dredging permit after a boat ran aground in Sea Dog Creek last year, injuring passengers on board, Doheny said.
The town needed a state waiver to conduct dredging in the state intercostal waterway between May and September because that is the spawning season for flounder.
The pumped sand should restore sand to marshlands to better absorb water and reduce flooding during storms.
“The bay can’t hold the same amount of water and had a bad effect on our marshes to act like Jell-O in a bowl,” Doheny said. “There’s a lot of erosion going on and it causes sediment coming into the inlets.”
The town was also granted a 10-year permit to maintain the area. An additional dredging project is planned in September or October to remove the remaining 7,000 feet of shoal blocking the channel, Doheny said.
Town officials said nearly every channel is clogged by some sand and may need additional dredging to keep waterways clear.
“When you have an impediment like that at low tide, it can be dangerous,” Doheny said. “You can’t have people running aground where there should be water.”
Work was done with the town’s floating dredge and workforce to suck sand and water to drill down about 12 feet. The dredging should restore the channel’s depth to about eight feet, to make it more consistent with the bays and Reynolds Channel.
“The fact we can do all this work in house is a good thing for residents because the cost is so minimal,” Hempstead Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney said.