Suffolk County plans to dredge James Creek in Mattituck, Little Creek in Cutchogue and Budds Pond in Southold this winter as part of its annual commitment to keeping waterways throughout the county clear for navigation.
County Executive Steve Levy announced the plans last week. Every year, the county’s Department of Public Works dredges several creeks and harbors on the East End at no cost to the town.
The county may also dredge Wickham’s Creek in Cutchogue if it receives DEC permits in time to dredge this winter, said Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell. Southold Town authorized the county to pursue those permits last month.
Town trustee Dave Bergen compiles a list each year of creeks the town would like to see dredged. He said this summer that Wickham’s Creek is a priority because it is closed to shellfishing because of poor water quality and because it also is home to a commercial marina — Cutchogue Harbor Marina.
The trustees had also asked the county to dredge Halls Creek in Mattituck and West Creek in New Suffolk. There are no marinas and little public access to Halls Creek, which the trustees had hoped to see dredged for environmental reasons, and there are no DEC or Army Corps of Engineers permits in place for West Creek, inside of Kimogener Point just west of New Suffolk.
Mr. Bergen made note earlier this summer that West Creek is also a lower priority for the county due to the fact that it does not have a commercial marina.
New strict DEC requirements to protect the winter flounder spawning season have also hampered dredging the past two years, after the state agency curtailed the end of the dredging season, which had been in April, back to January 15. The dredging season begins October 15.
“We’re always happy to see dredging getting done. It’s an essential component to the infrastructure of our community,” said Mr. Russell. “It’s a shame the federal and state permitting process makes it so difficult.”