CA - Petaluma River Dredged for First Time in 17 Years
Local leaders this week celebrated the final days of the Petaluma River dredge project, marking the end of a protracted effort to clear the central waterway of a 17-year silty entombment blamed for declining tourism and river recreation.
The nearly six-week long project is set to end Thursday, leaving the city with a rejuvenated river cleared of silt and debris as the electric-powered Sandpiper dredging barge and its San Diego-based Pacific Dredge & Construction crew make their way back to San Pablo Bay.
Congressman Jared Huffman and Petaluma Mayor Teresa Barrett, among the project’s most ardent champions, joined Lt. Col. John Cunningham of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and several other stakeholders at the Petaluma Yacht Club Tuesday afternoon to mark the occasion.
“This is the day we wanted to get to for a long time,” said Huffman, D-San Rafael, who has pressed the federal government for local dredging funds for eight years. “The great thing about this day is Petaluma is getting its river back.”
Barrett, who gathered more than 2,500 signatures to her “Mayor’s Dredge Pledge,” said it was the community’s support that helped lobby for the $9.7 million project.
“Our community really wanted this,” she said. “By showing up, we really made an impression. Nothing happens if you don’t work together.”
The 13-mile tidal slough, historically considered a commercial lifeblood for the county’s second-largest city, was once dredged every four years by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers but became neglected after federal funding dried up.