Harbor District Commissioner Pat Higgins has a my word piece about our “so called” “natural deep water port” (as East West rail folks like to call it) in today’s Times-Standard here are some important excerpts:
– 45 days of dredging by the Army Corps of Engineers that removed approximately 2.8 million cubic yards of sediment.
– Maintaining the entrance requires use of one of the two large Army Corps dredging ships that are used for all West Coast ports, and the cost of services annually have been about $3.2 million over the last several years.
– Congressman Jared Huffman works hard to make sure our dredging budget is secured annually and this year he was able to get $7.2 million allocated to catch up on maintenance of shipping channels away from the entrance.
The river can be thought of as a giant conveyor belt that delivers huge quantities of sediment to the ocean off the mouth. The heavy rains storms, which cause the river’s rise, almost always come from the south and set up what geologists call littoral drift in the near-shore ocean toward the north. This causes the sediment blown out of the river to travel parallel the shore and into the mouth of Humboldt Bay. Depths at the entrance can decrease by 10 feet or more in one storm event. This last winter Eel River flow approached or exceeded 100,000 cubic feet per second on three occasions pushing a huge sediment load out the mouth and towards Humboldt Bay. Ocean waves of 38-42 feet in late March forced the sediment into the mouth and created acutely hazardous conditions.
… the Harbor District is also asking Congressman Huffman to help get the USGS to study Eel River sediment generation. Hopefully more sensitive land use practices will result in diminished sediment supply from the Eel River in the future, but the current over-supply is likely to continue for the next several decades at least.
As we work on long term solutions with the Army Corps to entrance shoaling, the Harbor District is also asking Congressman Huffman to help get the USGS to study Eel River sediment generation.
There are important points that The Examiner like to emphasize:
Humboldt Bay in its long history was frequently closed off to the ocean by sediment, it is the army corps that keeps the mouth forced open. It is not a natural system.
There is no need for and expensive study to tell us clearcut logging, illegal roadbuilding and grading by the “Green Rush” caused the huge sediment flow this year and it will for many years to come.This boondoggle is getting increasingly more expensive has time goes by and that’s not going to change. Time to quit thinking of the bay as an industrial resource and appreciate it for it really is.