There is an estimated 17,000 cubic yards of silt clogging the channel in Neabsco Creek. To put that in perspective, one cubic yard of saturated silt can typically weigh up to 3,000 pounds. That means 51 million pounds of soil or 25,500 tons of silt needs to be removed in order to maintain the channel and ensure that boats can continue to safely navigate the creek. It would take about 6,800 full-sized pickup trucks to haul away that much silt.
The Prince William Board of County Supervisors recently allocated a $750,000 grant to dredge the channel and improve boat passage. The good news for the estimated 1,000 recreational boats that are docked and stored along Neabsco Creek near Leesylvania State Park is that the project will ensure that the channel remains navigable. The other good news is that the dredging recently started, meaning the work will be completed during the offseason so that boaters will be able to use the waterway connecting to the Potomac River during the next boating season.
As the dredging continues, the silt will be loaded into containers aboard barges that will then be offloaded into dump trucks at a marina that is under construction near Neabsco Road. From there, the silt will be taken to the Prince William County Landfill Complex.
In early March, the U.S. Coast Guard removed their navigational markers from the channel and installed danger signs in their place, which signaled to boaters that the channel may be unsafe. According to a channel survey completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the depth of the creek channel is currently at less than four feet in some sections, and they have authorized dredging to five feet in these sections.
The Industrial Development Authority of Prince William County, or IDA, which is in place to promote economic development in the county, will administer the grant. The boating activity at the four marinas along the creek supports 12 marina-related businesses and 50 to 100 jobs depending on the season.
The Neabsco Creek, LLC, which the marina owners formed in July 2018, have hired a dredging contractor. The money for dredging includes the cost of a third-party administrator to oversee operations; and Neabsco Creek, LLC, must receive all permits and approvals necessary for dredging the channel before receiving any funds from the IDA. In addition, the LLC members will dredge their marinas, at their expense, in conjunction with the channel dredging.
According to the agreement between the IDA and the Neabsco Creek, LLC, dredging must be completed no later than Jan. 31, 2019.