DARE CO. -- The Dare County Board of Commissioners recently reached out to President Obama for help because of dangerously low water levels at the Oregon Inlet.

Water depths declined to less than four feet in some areas last week, prohibiting recreational and commercial vessels from accessing the Atlantic Ocean, officials said.

Favorable winds improved conditions and emergency dredging operations have begun, allowing passage for some boats. But County Commissioners say safe passage through the inlet is inconsistent. They say federal funding for dredging operations is limited and won't last long. Approximately $280,000 remains for dredging in the current Federal budget and the estimated cost for operating the hopper dredge is $30,000 per day, officials said.

A letter signed by Chairman Warren Judge emphasizes the economic importance of Oregon Inlet to the Outer Banks and the entire region and requests a meeting with the President to discuss the issue.

Read letter here

'Mr. President, we have an emergency situation in Dare County. We desperately need to find a dependable and reoccurring funding source so that Oregon Inlet can have a consistent dredging effort to maintain this navigable channel on a year round basis, until such time as there is an alternate method of sand management,' the letter states.

In recent days, Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3) and Senator Kay Hagan have submitted letters to Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, requesting a meeting with Dare County officials. Her office establishes policy direction and provides supervision of all aspects of the Civil Works program of the Army Corps of Engineers.

Read letter here

'We appreciate the support from our elected leaders in Washington and stand ready to meet with the President and Assistant Secretary Darcy at a moment's notice to discuss this critical issue. Oregon Inlet serves as a highway for our watermen and when their homeport is inaccessible, this causes a devastating blow for the economy of our County and our region,' said Chairman Judge.

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