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<The following Article has been prepared and approved by FOBC for print in various local residential newsletters>

January 15, 2002

Residents Join to Keep our Creek Navigable

Bennett Creek has a long history of challenging those who navigate itsí tidal waters in search of itsí scenic views, itsí wonderful seafood restaurant and itsí abundant crabbing and fishing opportunities.  While much of Bennett Creek is sufficiently deep for all but the largest of vessels, gaining access to these waters can be a challenge.  The channel at the mouth of Bennett Creek where it joins the Nansemond and James Rivers shoals up to the point where the depth can restrict boater access at low tide.  This condition dates back many years and is attributed to the natural current within the Nansemond as well as to large amounts of sediment being dredged and re-deposited along the riverbanks of the Nansemond and James Rivers.

In 1982, a group of local residents sought political and financial support from the City of Suffolk and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge a channel through the shoaled area, creating a safe and convenient means of boater access to the creek.  In 1992, they were successful and the channel as we know it was created.  This relatively new access channel is located between Green Day Markers # 1 and # 3 at the mouth of Bennett Creek.  When the channel was created, the intent was to maintain it at a depth of 6 feet (MLW) and 60 feet wide.  However, weather conditions and shoaling cause sediment to redeposit at a rate of approximately one foot per year, requiring maintenance dredging operations every 2 to 5 years at costs varying from $100,000 to $600,000 per operation.

Hines-Farley Offshore Yachts and Bennett Creek (Harbor Side) Marina and Restaurant, locally owned businesses along the shores of Bennett Creek, depend on accessibility to and from the deeper waters of the James River and Chesapeake Bay.  Fortunately, these businesses generate sufficient commercial activity on Bennett Creek to create eligibility for federal funds to be used in support of dredging.  The Army Corps of Engineers bears 60% of the cost and the responsibility of obtaining any necessary contracts, bids and permits. This is an extremely beneficial situation and a great incentive for the City of Suffolk to approve capital expenditures to cover the remaining 40% of the costs.  The Local Cooperation Agreement, signed in 1991, by the City and the Army Corps of Engineers provides the details of this arrangement.

The Friends of Bennett Creek, Inc.  (FOBC)  is a newly formed local support group that maintains constant vigilance over the navigability of Bennett Creek.  Because the City budget is voted on and approved annually by our elected City Council members, it is necessary to keep them informed of the condition of the channel and to request they take action as conditions dictate.

If you are asked if you support the Friends of Bennett Creek, we sincerely hope you will be able to answer  YES.