Federal funding for a dredging project proposed for Put-In Creek in Mathews has been turned down by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
According to the 105-page report completed by the USACE Norfolk District, signed by Norfolk District commander Col. Paul B. Olsen and dated June 2012, the project is not economically justified because it doesn’t contribute to national economic development.
In addition, the project would involve disturbing wetlands, and, finally, the existing conditions in the creek don’t have “a significant detrimental impact on commercial seafood and charter boat operations.”
The report says that the cost of the project and the ongoing maintenance required if the creek were dredged would result in a zero cost/benefit ratio and net negative annual benefits ranging from -$83,568 to -$109,480, depending on the depth of the dredge. The cost/benefit ratio was based on responses to surveys completed by commercial watermen. Twelve local watermen turned in the surveys, the report states, but only eight of the documents were sufficiently complete to be used.
While the recreational benefits of such a project have been touted, the report says that civil works funds may only be used to support recreational development if the commercial benefits to a navigation project equal or exceed 50 percent of the average annual cost of the project. Since the commercial benefits were zero, no recreational benefits were calculated.