Topsail Beach officials are joining other beach towns with shallow draft inlets in securing future dredging funds.
TOPSAIL BEACH — Topsail Beach officials are joining other beach towns with shallow draft inlets in securing future dredging funds.
During their monthly meeting Wednesday night, Topsail Beach commissioners agreed to endorse potential funding options proposed by the state Division of Water Resources. Of three options discussed during a February meeting with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Topsail Beach commissioners most favor a solution the town is currently pursuing for future dredging of New Topsail Inlet.
That option includes obtaining individual Coastal Area Management Act major permits as well as those from the Corps of Engineers for all five of North Carolina's shallow draft inlets to allow dredging to depths greater than the current allowable depths and put dredging materials onto the beach. Acquiring these permits will cost an estimated $10 million.
Dredging in New Topsail Inlet began last month, three months after commissioners approved sending $225,000 to the state to fund half of the $450,000 routine dredging project. The state is picking up the remaining $225,000.
Pender County contributed $75,000 to the project. Surf City has agreed to provide $37,500.
Dredging has already opened up the main part of the inlet at the southern tip of Topsail Island, Town Manager Tim Holloman said.
The town is still working on obtaining permits to widen the inlet to 150 feet and 16 feet deep. That width and depth would allow the town to use a larger dredge and, in turn, move the sand from the inlet onto the beach. The current dredging depth is from 6 to 8 feet.
Topsail Beach is among a list of other beach towns along the North Carolina coast coping with the loss of federal funding to help keep shallow inlets open. State Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, recently sponsored a bill to establish a Shallow Draft Inlet Dredging Fund, which would come from proposed increases in the state's vessel registration and titling fees. A proposal in the legislature would increase the current $15 fee with fees based on the length of the boat being registered.
The inlet was dredged last year, but shoaling quickly re-clogged the waterway, making it difficult for boaters to navigate.