Estuary Conservation Association News – April 2018

By Alan Ritchie

As previously reported, the Estuary Conservation Association, Inc. (ECA) has been monitoring the progress of the planned 2018 dredge of the Wiggins Pass navigation channel. The following is a summary of the key information on the dredge that followed the formal approval and funding of the project by the Collier County Commissioners in late February.

By mid-March, the contractor will have assembled their dredging equipment in the vicinity of Wiggins Pass and will begin this $2+ million-dollar project. The dredge will deposit over 100,000 cubic yards of beach-quality sand just off portions of Barefoot Beach to the north and off of Delnor-Wiggins State Park to the south of the pass.

Other key facts about this 2018 dredge are:

  • The dredge will return the channel to a generally East-West orientation to encourage the natural maintenance of the channel depth via tidal and river flow between the mouth of the river and the day marker outside the pass.
  • The initial depth of the dredge will range from 7 to 13 feet which is designed to maintain a minimum 3-foot navigation channel at mean low water over time.
  • It is expected that this dredge will provide navigable water in the channel for about 3 years, at which time a maintenance dredge will likely be needed.
  • Once started, dredging operations will operate 24/7 and is expected to last at least 60 days.
  • As many as 10 support vessels should be expected in the vicinity of the pass.
  • The Pass will remain open during the dredge project but the channel will be narrower so it is important to be patient with other boat traffic.
  • The dredge project is not expected to significantly impede vessel traffic in and out of Wiggins Pass.
  • This dredge is part of a long- term plan to provide a navigable and well-maintained pass.
  • The existing course of the pass will not be preserved; as it is the result of anomalous wind and currents from the South and does not optimize the flow of the Cocohatchee River to maintain the channel depth.

All boaters should familiarize themselves with the latest information prior to any voyage through the Pass, be patient with other traffic and become familiar in advance with the operating procedures in the vicinity of the dredging equipment.

The ECA will provide information on the dredge operations by posting flyers and other information in the Cocohatchee Marina gas dock office. The ECA will also be providing additional information to boaters during the dredge project on the ECA website at