A roof blown off by a long-forgotten hurricane, an abandoned barge, and small kitchen appliances were some of the items pulled out of the Cherry Grove area canals during the $8.2 million dredging project that wrapped up Sunday.
“After storms, some people found it convenient to just throw stuff in the canals,” said Pat Dowling, North Myrtle Beach spokesman.
Dredging workers also dug out old dock lumber, poles, garbage cans and fishing poles.
“No sunken treasures though, pirates came through here long before the canals were built,” Dowling said.
The debris was in addition to 165,000 cubic yards of sand, mud and compacted sea shells that were hauled out of the system of 24 canals that has never been dredged.
“Some canals were pretty clear, others less clear,” Dowling said.
It took decades to launch the project, and once it did in November, the dredging was completed in five months — a month later than expected due to Hurricane Matthew.
If city officials had not dredged the canals, the area would have been in danger of turning into marshlands, which means the Army Corps of Engineers would not have issued a permit to disturb it.
The North Myrtle Beach homeowners who live along the canals paid for the dredging work through a $2,400 annual special assessment to their property for five years.
Officials say the 24-foot wide dredge down the center of each canal should allow for water depths of at least three feet at low tide, making it easier for boats to maneuver the waterway.
The muck was transported through a pipeline to a location off Little River Neck Road, where it nearly filled the spoils basin to capacity. Once the material turns to a solid state, it will be moved inland to a final disposal location.
Some property owners were able to start boating in and out of the canal before the project ended, while a few others are landlocked because dredging needs to be completed on their private property.
“In some channels, this means docks are floating, in others, it means property owners will have to do private dredging to get from the dock to the channel — that’s been understood from the start,” Dowling said.
City officials will wait a few years to see how the current flows and the canals settle before determining whether a second dredge will need to be conducted.