051117 Murrells Inlet: County will dredge deeper in Marsh Walk channels
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Murrells Inlet: County will dredge deeper in Marsh Walk channels

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Georgetown County will pay an additional $404,000 for dredging of channels behind the Murrells Inlet Marsh Walk after area restaurants complained that earlier work by the county’s contractor didn’t remove enough silt. The funds were approved by County Council this week, bringing the project’s total cost to $3.9 million.

“The intent of these modifications was to protect the county from liability and also to ensure a positive project completion for all parties,” Ray Funnye, the county’s director of Public Works, wrote in a memo to the council. “This ensures navigable channels for years to come.”

The restaurants also paid a portion of the dredging cost. On a low tide in early March, they got a look at the result. Behind the Dead Dog Saloon, “both docks were sitting up on mud at about a 20 degree angle,” Charlie Campbell, owner of the restaurant, said in an email. “Totally unacceptable.” He and David Owens, owner of Creek Ratz, said neither they nor the county got what they paid for from the dredging.

Jonathan Poore, owner of Express Watersports, told the county “areas of our basin seemed to gain material from the dredging not reduce it.” His boats are behind Drunken Jack’s restaurant. “We are very concerned with the cost and expense of this dredging and what we are actually getting in return,” he said.

Commercial fishing boat operators also reported sucking up mud and shells in their engines at low tide. Not only were the channels too shallow, they were too narrow, the county was told.

The contractor, Gator Dredging, was supposed to dredge to a depth of 5 feet below mean low water to meet an effective depth of 4 feet in the channel along the Marsh Walk, Funnye said. That

didn’t happen. That may be because there was additional silt depositied in the channel after Hurricane Matthew in October, he said.

The county will now pay to dredge the depth of the channel to 6 feet. In other channels leading to the main creek, the depth will increase from 5 feet to 7 feet.

The change order approved by the council was welcomed by the restaurant owners. “I criticize the county on a lot of issues, but I commend you on this project,” Owens told staff in an email.

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