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Riverhead awaits approval to dredge creek

The Riverhead Town Board has adopted an emergency resolution to spend $91,746 to dredge the sand blocking the mouth of Wading River Creek.

The project now requires approval from state environmental officials and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“The ball is in their court,” said Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer sent a letter earlier this week to the Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, urging prompt approval.

Walter said shoaling at the creek is a persistent problem. The creek was last dredged last July. The late-December blizzard filled the channel with sand once again.

Officials say shoaling in the creek has made the town boat ramp unusable much of the time. It has also made it difficult, and sometimes impossible, for rescue crews to launch boats from the ramp, they said.

A Bellport man, Edwin Barahona, drowned near the mouth of the creek on June 10, when he jumped into the water and tried to rescue his 10-year-old stepson, who was in a small inflatable pool raft and was being swept out into Long Island Sound.

Walter said it is impossible to determine if the condition of the creek contributed to the death.

The town board resolution, adopted June 14, authorizes spending $91,746 and anticipates federal reimbursement of $68,809.

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