Beginning in August, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District will be conducting a controlled burn on Morris Island to clear vegetation in order to repair the perimeter dikes of the disposal area and prepare the site to receive dredged material from the Charleston Harbor federally-maintained anchorage basin.
The 165 acre Morris Island placement site hasn’t been needed since it was last used in 2004 when more than 426,000 cubic yards of dredged material were deposited. Due to this time lapse, the site has become overgrown with vegetation. The preparation of the site will require heavy construction equipment, which will be barged to the island, to clear the vegetation and repair the dikes around the perimeter of the area. The dike along the beach side of the placement area is being moved in by approximately 150 feet to account for the erosion that has occurred since 2004. The cleared vegetation will then be burned in accordance with regulations set by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Bureau of Air Quality, and is expected to regenerate within a few growing seasons.
"The burn and dike work will take approximately 90 days and the subsequent dredging will take approximately 70 days," says David Warren, project manager. "The District will be pumping dredged material with a cutter head pipeline dredge from the anchorage basin in the federal channel into the Morris Island placement area."
Anchorages are provided near the entrance to some ports for vessels awaiting berthing space, undergoing repairs, receiving supplies and crews, or awaiting inspection.
This $3.8 million dredging effort will result in filling the Morris Island placement area with approximately 400,000 cubic yards of material. The newly dredged anchorage basin will give the Charleston Harbor Pilots room to work when providing crucial service to vessels entering Charleston Harbor without having to take up room at a port terminal. This will save both time and money to the shipping company and the port.
The dredging contract also allows for an option to dredge approximately 166,000 cubic yards of material from Shem Creek, if funds become available in the future. The Shem Creek dredging would cost approximately $800,000-$1 million and would benefit the local seafood industry, allowing vessels safe access to open water in an effort to boost the local economy. The Town of Mount Pleasant is also looking to dredge additional parts of Shem Creek for new shrimp docks that have recently been constructed.