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Boaters Plead for Canal Dredging

The San Rafael Canal is a natural waterway that’s been lined with marinas, homes and businesses for decades. But there’s currently a dire need for it to be dredged — especially in the western half, beyond Lowrie’s Yacht Harbor (the heart-shaped marina, upper left).

© Wikipedia

Nowadays, on just about any weekend you’ll find stand-up paddleboarders and kayakers happily recreating on the San Rafael Canal. Its shallow depth in many places is no problem for them, but for local keelboat sailors and the many long-established marine businesses, the Canal’s dire need for dredging is a serious problem.

That’s why several business owners are reaching out to you — through us — to proactively push area legislators to fund dredging operations, which they say are long overdue.

"The last, and only partial, dredging of the Canal happened in 2011," writes Nadine Ahollinger of Helmut’s Marine. "The Army Corps of Engineers dredged 70% of the Canal to a depth of only 5.5 feet at low tide. Their own recommendation for a commercially viable waterway is 7 to 8 feet." And most of that work occurred in the eastern end of the Canal, leaving the western (downtown) end to continue silting in. With additional silting this year due to heavy winter runoff, the issue has become critical. 

SUPing has become extremely popular on the Canal. Here, diehard racers compete during a winter storm with 30-knot winds. 

© 101 Surf Sports / Ron Steinau

Dredging advocates urge you to help them crank up the pressure on legislators to fund dredging ASAP, before a number of long-established marine businesses can no longer operate. Email Congressman Jared Huffman here, Senator Mike McGuire here, and Assemblyman Marc Levine here.

Dredging campaigners tell us that businesses along the Canal bring in more than $10.5 million per year and thus contribute heavily to the local economy.

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