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NH congressional delegation requests emergency dredging of Hampton Harbor

HAMPTON — The congressional delegation from New Hampshire is requesting that emergency dredging of Hampton Harbor be included in the Army Corps of Engineers’ work plan for the 2019 fiscal year.

The plan must be submitted to Congress no later than Nov. 20.

Sand shoals in the harbor are causing serious issues for those who navigate the waters for work and recreation. The channel is currently only 20 to 30 feet wide in some places and at least two boats have gotten stuck on the shoals this season.

Last week, U.S. senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, D-NH, sent a joint letter to the White House Office of Management and Budget along with representatives Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster, D-NH.

“According to the Corps’ Condition Surveys and shoaling reports, shoaling has caused the harbor to become shallower than authorized depths,” the letter says. “Many vessels that utilize the harbor now rely on the tides to successfully navigate the shallow water.”

The harbor in Hampton and Seabrook is New Hampshire’s largest commercial fishing port. Approximately 1,500 recreational vessels are launched through the Hampton River Marina. The marina is estimated to be the single largest contributor to the Hampton economy, according to the letter.

The Army Corps of Engineers must maintain and improve about 12,000 miles of shallow waterways and coastal channels, including 400 ports, harbors and turning basins. Only a few of these waterways are naturally deep enough for marine commerce, meaning a majority of them need to be dredged every six or seven years. 

The last dredging of Hampton Harbor was started in November of 2012 and finished in 2013.