Silt Goes To Better Use - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

06/21/03

Silt Goes To Better Use

"Waste not. Want not." That's the idea behind a massive $3.2 million project underway by the U.S. Army Corps of engineers. Congressman Gene Taylor said that for too long the sand, silt, and clay dredged from our channels has been deposited at other under water locations when it could go to better use.

Taylor lobbied that the materials collected be used to replenish Deer Island.

Dredging to maintain the coast's water channels is nothing new, but what's being done with the sand collected is something Mississippi has never seen before. When the U.S. Army Corps of engineers began using the materials to create a larger Deer Island, some said it couldn't be done.

"Traditional engineers like things that are solid that have been done before and tested, so stepping in to new areas is a little bit of concern to people and we went that helped us design this because they had built it before and we had high confidence and it's working well so far," Stanley Clark of the US Army Corps of Engineers said.

The slush is what Congressman Gene Taylor hopes will save an island that has been washing away. Tayolor said that stopping the erosion means rethinking how the government disposes of what it dredges up.

"We had to break a mind set at the Corps that just said get rid of it, don't try to do something good with it," Taylor said.

Project engineers say if the weather cooperates, two years from now, the 50-acre addition will resemble the rest of the marshland on Deer Island. Some local creatures don't want to wait that long.

"Birds love this area. They're already trying to congregate on the rocks that we put out and some of the containment area itself so I expect by the time we're finished they'll have 50 acres of play land," Clark said.

"This is gonna be a place where young juvenile shrimp can come and grow, where menhaden can come and grow, young crabs. This is gonna do a lot to enhance the fishing. As you can see the osprey nest behind us. It's just a beautiful place for people to come and see the hand of God," Taylor said.

Taylor added that the project will save taxpayer money, because silt isn't being put back into the water and because the government will probably have to dredge channels less often.

By Danielle Thomas

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