Will Clam Bayou be dredged?

06/02/08 Seán Kinane
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Last month the Gulfport City Council passed a resolution asking the Southwest Florida Water Management District (Swiftmud) to dredge parts of Clam Bayou. But many citizens oppose the idea of removing sediment from such a large portion of the estuary.

This morning, Swiftmud employees, members of the Pinellas-Anclote River Basin Board and city officials toured the navigable portions of Clam Bayou by boat.

The Gulfport City Council’s only vote against the resolution calling for large-scale sediment removal in Clam Bayou was by Michele King. King, who is also the city’s vice mayor, rode through the estuary on one of the boats.

Gulfport’s plan calls for the mouth of Clam Bayou to be dredged to 6-feet deep at low tide and much of the rest of the waterways in the bayou to be dredged to 4 feet. But even though parts of the estuary do have sediment problems, King said, large-scale dredging is not the solution. “I don’t think it will help.”

King said large pieces of garbage, like shopping carts, could also be removed from a storm sewer that flows into the estuary to keep out sediment. Water from the storm sewer could be diverted through ponds to settle sediment.

The Pinellas-Anclote River Basin Board will meet in Clearwater on Wednesday and City Councilman Bob Worthington said he hopes Swiftmud will move forward with rescuing Clam Bayou.

Janette Seachrist is the program manager for Swiftmud’s Surface Water Improvement and Management program. She said Swiftmud is designing the third phase of restoration at Clam Bayou.

Janet Hoppe is a member of Switfmud's Pinellas-Anclote River Basin Board. "I'd like to see it kind of left like it is," Hoppe said. "I think it's beautiful."

Jackie Ballard, an artist in Gulfport, watched the boats go through the estuary. She wore a shirt that read “Do Not Dredge.” She said she is in favor of Swiftmud’s proposal to dredge a small amount “to get the flow going again,” but opposes large-scale dredging of Clam Bayou.

Kore MacKenzie is a Gulfport resident who is circulating a petition opposing the Gulfport City Council’s resolution. She says she has 500 signatures.

The Pinellas-Anclote River Basin Board meets at Clearwater City Hall at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF

City of Gulfport

Southwest Florida Water Management District -- Swiftmud

Saving Clam Bayou report by Cathy Salustri

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