The federal government has kicked in an additional $2 million for the Lower Newport Bay dredging project, Newport Beach City Councilman Mike Henn announced Tuesday.
Funds for the $7.8 million project were about $2 million short of the total, Henn said, and the thought was to go get private donations to make up that gap.
“I am very, very pleased to report tonight that we have just been informed … that the federal government has allocated an additional $2 million for the benefit of Newport Beach for this project,” Henn said at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
This is added onto the already assured funding from the federal government of about $2.4 million for the project.
That extra money essentially funds the entire project, with a shortfall of about $250,000, Henn said. He requested that staff consider upping the city’s contribution to the project from $2.5 million to $2.75 million to make up for that shortfall.
“So that the entire project will be funded, with assured funding, by governmental agencies, federal, county and city” Henn said.
Henn called the extra money a “tremendous advance” to ensure the improvement of the harbor, but that it doesn’t let the private harbor community “off the hook,” because there are other dredging opportunities in the harbor that would really complete the project, he said.
Staff will be reviewing other high spots in the harbor, he added, and they are still interested in generating some private donation money to “really do a bang-up job here, with this dredging,” Henn said.
The Tidelands Committee and city staffers have been working together to organize an expanded dredging project for Lower Newport Bay, Henn said.
The city is taking advantage of a unique, low-cost opportunity to dispose of 80 percent of unsuitable seabed material at the Port of Long Beach, Harbor Resources Manager Chris Miller said at a council meeting in December.
The dredging project would take the deepest portion in the lower bay to a depth of minus 11 mean low water.
“Which means that we would cut off the high spots,” Henn said, “to really improve navigability and along the way also clean up a good bit more sediment.”
Henn thanked the city staff, the Army Corps of Engineers, and council members.
“[This project], in conjunction with the Rhine Channel, is just a major advance for the improvement of our harbor,” Henn said.
“I think the Tidelands Management Committee has expressed a deep interest to continue on with the maintenance dredging in our harbor at a prescribed interval of time,” Miller said in December about possible future dredging projects. “So we don’t have the big project we have today.”
The port of Long Beach has set a March deadline to dispose of the unsuitable sediment. The entire project is expected to be completed by June of next year.
“The harbor is one of our most significant economic resources,” Councilmember Keith Curry said at a meeting in December, “and it’s up to us, as stewards of the harbor, to make sure that it continues to be the resource that it is for boaters and people who come to visit our community, and for residents.”