The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection has issued a Water Quality Certificate to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to have a 5-mile-long channel and anchorages along the Norwalk River dredged.
The project, which will remove more than 550,000 cubic yards of sediment and muck from the bottom of the channel, will cost about $7 million, local harbor officials estimate.
"This is certainly a big step in the right direction, but I won't be happy until I see that clamshell bucket dipping in the water and picking up some sediment," said John Pinto, chairman of the Norwalk Harbor Management Commission.
The silt, which has been building up since the channel was last dredged in 1981, has reduced depths to as little as 8 feet or less in the 12-foot channel; 5 feet or less in the 10-foot channel; and 4 feet or less in the 10-foot anchorage, the Army Corps of Engineers reported.
The project also calls for the creation of two confined aquatic disposal cells (CADs) in the harbor to hold about 53,000 cubic yards of dredged material deemed too polluted for disposal in Long Island Sound.
These cells -- large trenches that will be filled with the polluted material and capped with clean dredged material -- will be located halfway between the Wall Street Bridge and Yankee Doodle Bridge. The rest of the material will be disposed of at a disposal site off East Haven or possibly Noroton, said Jack Karalius, project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The DEP's certificate gives the Army Corps three years to complete the project.