By Sallie James

    Keeping the waterways free of navigation-clogging silt so boats can pass freely is a pricey proposition. 

    To help cover the cost of a huge dredging project to clear the silt from the Hillsboro Canal, Boca Raton officials are hoping to receive grant money from the Florida Inland Navigation District Waterways Assistance Program. The project is estimated to cost $550,000 and the city’s share will depend on the size of the grant.

    The city is anticipating a cost-sharing reimbursement from FIND ranging anywhere from $275,000 to $412,000. And Deerfield Beach is expected to contribute approximately $137,500 toward the project, according to a memo from Jennifer Bistyga, of Boca municipal services.

    Preparation for the dredging got underway more than a year ago and cost $100,000. The city entered an agreement with FIND for an array of preparatory services to measure sea depth, sea grass and organisms living in the bottom of the water, the submittal of agency permit applications, and the preparation of project bid documents, project bidding and the award of a construction contract, according to Boca Raton Deputy City Manager Mike Woika.

    Under a cost-sharing arrangement for Phase I, the cities of Boca Raton and Deerfield Beach each contributed $25,000; two commercial marinas jointly contributed $25,000; and a consortium of boat owners from the Royal Palm Yacht and Racquet Club contributed $25,000, Woika said.

    Phase II, the dredging, will involve the removal of 13,400 cubic yards of silt that has accumulated along the proposed length, posing a hindrance to boating navigation, Woika said.

    Expected to start within a year, the dredging begins just west of Dixie Highway and continues east to just west of Deerfield Island Park, he said.

    According to a city memo, Boca entered into an agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers in 1976 to maintain the navigability of the Hillsboro Canal between the Intracoastal Waterway and Dixie Highway. The Hillsboro Canal was subsequently dredged in 1976 and 1996.

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