The humming of a 1,200 horsepower diesel engine, pipes running in the middle of the channel, and a crew with ear plugs, hard hats, reflective vests, and life jackets was a long-awaited and an excitedly-anticipated sight bobbing in the waters of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. The Wilco, an 18 inch cutterhead dredge, owned and operated by Southwind Construction, was hard at work.
The dredging of two critical reaches in the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway near Breach Inlet, off
Sullivan’s Island and the Isle of Palms, and Jeremy Creek in McClellanville was recently completed allowing for the safe passage of commercial and recreational vessels. These are heavily-traveled areas of the waterway, where increased shoaling had created a safety concern, especially at low tide.
Breach Inlet is considered one of the main thoroughfares of commercial boaters and had become treacherously shallow. The dredging project restored a 10 foot depth to this area.
“This area was our number one priority for assistance,” said Brad Pickle, executive director of the AIWW Association.
Jeremy Creek is utilized by the commercial seafood industry that supplies our local restaurants with fresh catches, which is an important part of the local economy. Dredging the reach to eight feet allowed the industry to keep thriving.
“I am very pleased that this area received some much needed relief,” said Rutledge Leland, mayor of McClellanville. “Without dredging, we weren’t going to be able to work, which would have put a lot of people out of jobs.”
The District partnered with Charleston County to fund this project. The County paid $500,000 of the $2.6 million cost to remove 250,000 cubic yards of material from Breach Inlet and 110,000 cubic yards from Jeremy Creek. That is roughly equivalent to 25,000 dump trucks of material taken out of Breach Inlet and 11,000 dump trucks out of Jeremy Creek. The dredged material was placed in Charleston District disposal sites close to each area.
“We are happy that we could help with some of the shoaling problems in the AIWW,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Luzzatto, District Commander. “It was something that has been needed for a while.”
The last time the waterway was dredged in various areas was six years ago using funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Before you venture out on the AIWW, please check the Charleston District website for the latest channel conditions at