Crews dredging in Carolina Beach, funding an ongoing concern
CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Dredging is underway in Carolina Beach this week.
The Army Corps of Engineers will is working on an eight day project pumping sand into the Carolina Beach Inlet. It costs $16,000 to dredge on one of these boats and while town leaders have been facing issues with funding they say it is a priority for the beach towns and the economy.
Roger Bullock with the Army Corps of Engineers said it takes captains like this to get the job done.
“I was always interested in being on the water and weather,” Captain Ray Bleam said. “It’s kind of my hobby.”
“He lives in Pennsylvania,” Bullock said. “He drives to wherever this thing is dredging on a weekly basis.”
Captain Ray Bleam has been dredging for 46 years.
“He’s definitely one of those that you respect,” Bullock said.
That was clear as Bleam explained how all of the equipment works during his eight day dredging project in the carolina beach inlet. It is a project the Army Corps of Engineers wants to do quarterly, but Bullock said they never know if there will be money to pay for it.
“2005 was one of the last times we saw funding for Carolina Beach Inlet,” Bullock said.
Federal money is out and Bullock said inlets are not as much of a priority in the money they do get.
“It is for the projects based on the most risk,” Bullock said. “That’s our deep draft ports.”
He says these waterways *are a priority to the local governments.
“When you think about all the commercial fishermen, the charter boat captains, the recreational sports fishermen, there are a lot of people who use these inlets and so, economy wise it’s important to the local governments,” Bullock said.
For now, they have to rely on the state and local governments to put these projects in their budget. Meanwhile, Bullock said he is glad he can continue to rely on captains like Bleam to get the project done.
“I hope he dredges forever,” Bullock said. “I hope he dredges beyond my career.”
Bullock said the Army Corps of Engineers meets with local and state leaders quarterly to prioritize money for these kinds of projects.