Equipment is being mustered at Massey’s Ditch for the dredging of the popular boating channel.

The project begins the week of January 6 and should be done by the end of February.

Massey’s Ditch is a narrow waterway between the Rehoboth Bay and Indian River. Massey’s Landing marina, at the end of Long Neck Road, opens into it. Lynch Thicket Island lies on the eastern side of the ditch.

Dredge work will include Baker’s Channel, on the north side of Lynch Thicket Island, and a shallow area between the south side of Lynch Thicket and Middle Island. This summer, Baker’s Channel had a depth of 1.5 feet, prompting DNREC to issue a warning to boaters.

Local boater Greg Ruditys frequently puts his boat in the water at Massey’s Landing and traverses Massey’s Ditch. He’s glad to see it getting some maintenance.

“The water is shallow at the mouth of Massey, coming from Rehoboth Bay, and it needs to be dredged very badly. Many boats get stuck there,” he said. “I see it time and time again right outside of Massey’s. They think they [can] just drive through it when the water there is about a foot deep.”

Wisconsin contractor J. F. Brennan Company will dig up 100,000 cubic yards of material, which is 98% sand. That sand will be pumped to Delaware Seashore State Park to replenish the beach north of the Indian River Inlet.

At the project’s end, Massey’s Ditch will be 100 feet wide and 7.5 feet deep. The boat ramp at Massey’s Landing will not be closed during dredging.

The $3.6 million project is funded by the state’s waterway management fund and from General Assembly appropriations. Legally, as an inland waterway, Massey’s Ditch maintenance is the responsibility of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but federal funding has come up short since the 1970s.

The state has paid for dredging four times since the 1980s, mostly recently in 2002.