CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — On Thursday, a barge involved in a Packery Channel restoration project broke free of the ropes keeping it restrained. It then got stuck on the south jetty, where it eventually started sinking.
The incident called for some people to question whether or not the channel was at the necessary depth it should be.
Kyle Gonterman, a local charter fisherman, said the waves at the end of the channel can get dangerous for boaters.
“Even in normal conditions it could be dangerous, because the waves basically double in size at the mouth,” he said. “You’ve had multiple boats get flipped out here. A lot of it has to do with not knowing what you’re doing, but it also has to do with overall dangerous conditions in this channel.”
Corpus Christi City Councilman Greg Smith, who presides over District 4, which includes Packery Channel, said the choppy nature of the waves at the mouth of the channel is caused by the way the water from the Gulf of Mexico meets the water coming from Packery Channel.
“If the jetties were extended, that would help a little bit, but even the Aransas Pass and Port Aransas jetties have some pretty significant waves at the end,” Smith said
Gonterman said he’s seen novice boaters have issues getting out of the channel.
“If you go out in good conditions, and say the tide starts going out or the waves increase just a little bit, you could be fine out there, but once you get in here the waves get closer together, and they can start to break aggressively,” he said.
Packery Channel has not been dredged since 2012, but the City of Corpus Christi surveys the depth of the channel multiple times a year to ensure it’s at the necessary depth of eight feet. Smith said this year’s survey revealed another dredging is necessary.
“The city is moving forward with dredging, but we have to have the Packery restoration complete before we go dredge, because the activity conflicts with the dredging activity,” he said.
The money necessary for the dredging of Packery Channel comes from Island Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone funds, but the deal for TIRZ expires at the end of the year. Smith said if the city doesn’t renew the deal, the ability to dredge the channel is in jeopardy.
Smith said the timeline to dredge the channel is sometime in 2023.