The dredging operation that was set to begin at the Santa Barbara Harbor on Tuesday has been delayed as a storm system with strong winds is expected throughout Santa Barbara County this week.
Emergency dredging took place at the end of January to clear out about 30,000 cubic yards of sand pushed into the harbor from the January storms and high tides — which made the harbor entrance too shallow and hazardous for most vessels to navigate — but according to Santa Barbara’s Waterfront Department, sand has continued to accumulate.
The channel remains open, but the accumulating sand is causing it to continue narrowing.
“Further dredging of the Santa Barbara federal channel was scheduled to begin Feb. 21,” the Waterfront Department said. “However, due to public safety concerns and predicted high winds and seas hitting Santa Barbara this week, staff has learned that the dredging start date is likely to be delayed.”
According to Waterfront public information officer Chris Bell, a bottom survey still needs to be completed before dredging can begin, but that should be done by Friday.
After the bottom survey is completed, dredging can begin sometime Saturday, weather permitting.
Bell added that this dredging cycle is expected to remove about 120,000 cubic yards of sand, and with the dredge averaging about 19,000 cubic yards per day, dredging should take about 15 days if weather conditions allow.
The Army Corps of Engineers recently awarded a three-year contract to Pacific Dredge, with this dredging cycle being the first of six cycles at the Santa Barbara Harbor — one cycle each spring and one each fall.