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Dredging at Matanzas Pass to run into November

Army Corps of Engineers project on Fort Myers Beach considered routine maintenance

By Nathan Mayberg - Editor | Oct 13, 2020

The dredging of Matanzas Pass in Fort Myers Beach, currently ongoing at the east side of Bowditch Point Park, will continue into mid-November according to the Army Corps of Engineers.

David Ruderman, a spokesperson for the Jacksonville office of the Army Corps of Engineers, said the dredging is routine and is meant to help ensure boating safety. The last dredging project was completed in 2016 on Fort Myers Beach.

There have been periodic instances of boats getting stuck in sandbars over the past year.

The Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $3.1 million contract to Pompano Beach-based Cavache Inc. to do the work. The contract is federally funded.

The boats are pumping out dredged material through a 12,000 feet-long pipeline and using boosters to push the material through the pipe. They are also conducting critical shoaling, Ruderman said.

The dredged material, including shells, sand and sediment, is being pumped out into designated areas on the west end of the island on the gulf side approved by the Department of Environmental Protection, Ruderman said.

“They expect to remove 120,000 cubic yards of material,” he said.

There are buoys marking where the pipes are so boaters know where to steer clear of.

Those visiting Bowditch Point Park will notice dredging boats out into the gulf or idling near the beach. There are presently signs to keep beachgoers away from where the dredging is happening. The area in which the dredging boats are working has been attracting a lot of bird activity.

On Oct. 2, a great blue heron was found nearby at the restrooms of the park covered in oil, though Ruderman said he didn’t believe the incident had anything to do with the dredging boats.