Watershed project finally complete

Published 1:13 am Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Swan Quarter Watershed Project includes approximately 17 miles of dike construction beginning with Phase I near Hydeland Canal and running to the intersection of N.C. Highway 45 and U.S. Highway 264. (File Photo/Jurgen Boerema)

After much hard work, the Swan Quarter Watershed Project is finally complete.

Debbie P. Cahoon, Soil and Water Administrative Technician with the Hyde Soil and Water Conservation District, provided details of the project.

“The Swan Quarter Watershed Project Phase XIII final inspection was held on Friday, June 24, 2011 at 10:30 am. Phase XIII is the last and final phase of the project.  There is approximately 17 miles of dike construction beginning with Phase I near Hydeland Canal and running to the intersection of Highway 45 and Highway 264 which is Phase XIII.”

The estimated cost of Phase XII is approximately $2,744,713.25. Phase XIII funds came from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act grant funds. All other previous phases were federally funded through the Natural Resource & Conservation Watershed funds.

“Many agencies were involved in making the Swan Quarter Watershed Project a reality,” Cahoon said. “Some of those involved in this phase of the project would be The Natural Resource Conservation Service, Sawyers Land Developing, TA Loving Co., NC Division of Soil & Water Conservation, County of Hyde, NC Department of Transportation, Mattamuskeet Management & Consulting, Hyde Soil & Water Conservation District and the Swan Quarter Watershed Steering Committee.”

The Swan Quarter Watershed Work Plan began in 1965 to help protect Swan Quarter from wind tides from the Pamlico Sound. It also helped impede saltwater intrusion which can damage valuable cropland in Hyde County.

Originally, the plan called for 17.7 miles of dikes, 2.9 miles of channel improvements, three pumping plants and 16 tide gates. The work plan was signed by J.C. Morris, chairman, and H.W. Cahoon, secretary, of the Pamlico Soil and Water Conservation District (now the Beaufort, Hyde, Washington, Tyrrell and Dare County districts.)

The project was authorized by Congress a few years earlier as a result of five hurricanes that caused damage to the area from 1954 to 1960.

The project included a West Quarter and Double Bay supplement published in 1984. This part of the original project would protect cropland east of Swan Quarter.

Funding for the West Quarter and Double Bay project was $6,000,000 and encompassed phases I through VII. A Corps of Engineers permit was issued in February 1986 and work began on the project in 1987 with saltwater intrusion on cropland as the main motivation for its need.

By 1995, through seven phases, six miles of dike and six major tidegate structures had been completed.

After suffering from flooding as the result of six hurricanes in the mid- to late 1990s, local residents redoubled their efforts to see the project completed. A Coastal Area Management Act permit was issued in December 2002, and a Corps of Engineers permit in January 2003. Phase VII began in June 2003, which involved construction of the dike where it was stopped in the mid-1990s with the purpose of moving toward Swan Quarter.

The total funding amount for phases VIII through XI was $4,681,938 according to a Dec. 10, 2010 article in the Washington Daily News.