Dredging to reopen clogged waterway Marley Creek project expected to improve boating, water quality

November 13, 1996|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

For at least 20 years, the headwaters of Marley Creek have been little more than a mud flat at low tide. But by next spring, the water should be deep enough for boats to pass and, with luck, clean enough for residents to swim in.

The county is to begin dredging a 5-foot-deep channel this month, beginning at Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard and ending 3,900 feet downstream. The work is to start 20 years after it was proposed.

"We're grateful it's being dredged after all these years because it is waterfront property," said Charles Cage, 57, who has lived in the 7800 block of Leymar Road for 20 years. At last, he can get that 22-foot pontoon boat he has been planning to buy all the way upstream to his place, he said.

Over the years, silt from nearby construction work has filled in much of the Marley Creek headwaters, and sewage from failing septic systems made the water stink so badly that residents kept windows closed in the summer.

"Some days it was unbearable to sit outside because of the stench. We're hoping this will solve our problems," Cage said.

The 50-foot-wide channel is to be dredged to a depth of 5 feet below mean low tide, opening a path large enough for the runabouts owned by waterfront residents.

$24,000 project

Mobile Dredging and Pumping Co. of Baltimore, the low bidder, is to complete work on the $24,000 project by March to avoid disrupting the reproductive cycle of fish that inhabit the creek, according to John A. Morris, a county spokesman.

The cost of the project is being split almost equally by the county and the state, he said.

The project, initially proposed in 1977, has been in limbo for the past 11 years because the county could not find a place to dump the muck dredged from the creek.

That problem was solved six years ago when CSX Realty, which is planning to build as many as 1,200 homes and condominiums on 300 acres, agreed to set aside 10 acres at Marley Neck Road and Marley Neck Boulevard as a spoil site.

But the project languished until last winter when Del. Joan Cadden, a Brooklyn Park Democrat whose district includes the creek, held a meeting with state, county and Army Corps of Engineers officials to determine who was responsible for each part of the project.

"They couldn't pass the buck anymore," she said.

Swimming in doubt

She said the dredging would make the creek, which has been closed to swimming since March 25, 1979, because of high levels of fecal coliform bacteria, safe for swimming, fishing and crabbing. But that is not certain, according to Robert Gaudette, director of engineering construction for the state Department of Natural Resources.

"Generally, when you do a project like this it improves the flushing action in the water, which we have found improves the water quality," Gaudette said. But he said "only time will tell" if the creek will be safe again.

Pub Date: 11/13/96

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