State officials have granted Suffolk County permission to dredge the opening of Islip's Champlin Creek, where sediment buildup has threatened to make the waterway impassable this season.
Starting Saturday, a county barge will suck up 400 cubic yards of sediment from the mouth of the creek and deposit it on nearby Islip Beach, which has lost sand from erosion, county public works commissioner Gilbert Anderson said Wednesday.
Champlin Creek divides the hamlets of Islip and East Islip, and flows into the Great South Bay. The natural drifting of sand created a shoal across the entrance of the creek, which could have blocked boats from entering and exiting the creek this summer, Anderson said.
"This water at low tide was down to a foot, foot and a half," Islip Supervisor Phil Nolan said at a news conference Wednesday announcing the project. "That's dangerous."
Islip Town owns 97 boat slips on the creek, which generate $100,000 a year in revenue, Nolan said.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation approved the dredging project on April 21, in response to requests by the town and county.
The project will take a few days, and has been timed so as not to disturb wildlife, Anderson said. The DEC doesn't usually allow hydraulic dredging between January and September because it can interfere with the spawning of marine life.
Though the county had already scheduled a larger dredging project - some 11,000 cubic yards - in Champlin Creek for next year, town and county officials said they couldn't wait.
Next year's dredging project will go forward as planned, County Executive Steve Levy said.