Troubled waters: growing concerns about dredging project

Posted at 6:30 PM, Aug 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-08 20:03:15-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A lot of Port Aransas residents have growing concerns about a dredging project that's underway at the ship channel entrance. The Army Corps of Engineers has been working on the project since the spring.

Many concerns are about where the dredged material is being dumped. Residents worry that the sediment, which will be transported to nearby waters, could pose an environmental hazard.

"We don't know the environmental impacts of the 54-foot (project), so let's finish the 54-foot (project), and then study it for a few years," said Tammy King, a Port Aransas resident.

She's talking about the ship channel dredging that will eventually go as deep as 80 feet. King is also a member of the Port Aransas Conservancy Group, and she and others fear it's an environmental nightmare that's being dug up.

Their worries are the location of the project, and the possible environmental and marine life impact when the sediment is moved.

"They have to dispose of that material and that creates an impact outside of the canal, in our whole bay system," said James King, another member of the group.

However the project manager with the Army Corps of Engineers says most of that material will be dumped in the Gulf of Mexico, about 6 1/2 miles offshore. He also says the current will spread it out and it won't be a hazard to any marine life.

Meanwhile, some Port Aransas residents don't have a problem with the dredging project. It's part of a larger project to deepen the ship channel and open it up to large vessels, that would have a big economic impact.

"The dredging has to be done for the bigger ships," said David Ferris. "We do need to keep our oil and gas in this country. And it's something you need."

The Port of Corpus Christi is holding a meeting to discuss the dredging project. That meeting will take place at the Port Aransas Civic Center on Aug. 12, and the public is invited to attend.

The Army Corps of Engineers says the current phase of dredging will wrap up in February. The entire channel improvement project is expected to take three to four years to complete.