Intracoastal Waterway to Get Federal Funding Boost for Dredging

Photo: Jody Argo Schroath/ ICW Planning Guide

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AIWW) will get one of its biggest funding increases in recent years, in the federal government’s Fiscal Year 2019.

The recently-released AIWW maintenance budget is set at $23.944 million. It will allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do critical dredging projects needed to keep the waterway navigable for commercial and recreational boat traffic.

Here’s the breakdown of the maintenance funding, by state:

  • Georgia – $3 million

  • North Carolina – $5.59 million

  • South Carolina – $6.948 million

  • Virginia – $5.426 million

  • Florida – $2.98 million

The section of the Intracoastal Waterway where the money is going extends more than 1,100 miles from Norfolk, Virginia to the Florida Keys. It’s designated as “Marine Highway M-95” by the U.S. Department of Transportation. It’s the primary route for recreational boaters heading south and north. 

Jody Argo Schroath, editor of the ICW Planning Guide and ICW Mile by Mile Guide (published by Chesapeake Bay Magazine), says the increased funds are welcome news in certain neglected areas of the waterway.

“The happy news is especially happy in South Carolina, where the area south of Jeremy Creek and the area around Isle of Palms has been getting worse, and in Georgia, which has notoriously bad areas such as Hell Gate, Little Mud River, and Jekyll Creek.”

But, Schroath notes, Nature may have her own ideas about these shallow spots. Strong currents, like those at inlets, push tons of silt across the channel every year. If a hurricane impacts the ICW, even more silt can be dragged into the waterway’s manmade cuts. So, dredging may last only a couple of years at best in some places.

-Meg Walburn Viviano