Dredging the fantasy “deep water port”

humboldt bay

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.

http://www.times-standard.com/opinion/20160722/learning-to-live-with-humboldt-bay-entrance-shoaling-woes

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.

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3 thoughts on “Dredging the fantasy “deep water port”

  1. Third paragraph from the end should read sediment rather than sentiment?

    History tells us that the Eel River was once navigable all the way up the river to where the town of Scotia now resides. I wonder if there was so much sediment that came down the river back then? Or is all this sediment the result of resource extraction?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You have got it,resource extraction. Same problem with the Elk River. There are no more roots to hold the soil so we pay the price for over logging. The creek flowing through Ferndale has the same problem. There has been a real effort there to clean out the brush and sediment which has worked to some extent. Their problem is also the creek bed has silted in through farm land with no direct flow to empty into the Eel. The lower valley has seen a lot of flooding through the years because of this.. Notice in the photo how narrow the south end of the bay really is. Really hard to get a big ship into the docking area. Also there is only room for one ship and a couple of fuel barges in to the docks at the same time. It doesn’t look like a profitable port to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “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.”

    T.E., I respect your honesty. Unfortunately the majority of the Harbor Commissioners refuse to be so honest about how they feel about shipping.

    Like

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