(January 24, 2017) – One of the county’s largest economic engines is currently finalizing an underwater makeover that will attract some of the largest national rowing events in the country. With the return of competition in 2017 more than 12 regattas have already been scheduled on the Cooper River for the upcoming rowing season. While the remainder of the spoils are transported offsite, and grading and landscaping begin, the dredge is officially out of the water and recreational and competitive rowing can commence.
“Every day we are getting closer to an improved and enhanced version of one of Camden County’s great public spaces,” said Freeholder Jeff Nash, liaison to the Camden County Parks Department. “The dredging of the Cooper River is nearing completion as Cooper River Park is being expanded and reimagined to benefit generations of Camden County residents.”
The Cooper River’s Olympic-distance, 2,000-meter straightaway is widely known as one of the best rowing venues in the nation, home to numerous world-class regattas and the Cooper River Boathouse. The dredging project has removed more than 115,000 cubic yards of sediment from the river bed. The spoils were then stored on site to dry and transported to local landfills. The river water drained from the spoils was environmentally remediated at the Camden County Municipal Utility Authority through the wastewater treatment process.
“This greatly benefited the rowing course by deepening the previously shallow sixth lane, better known as the dead lane, and creating a significant environmental benefit to the water quality,” Nash said. “On average, the depth of the course has been increased by between five and six feet to accommodate large scale competition and create full access to the width of the river.”
Among the regattas confirmed for the spring is the Scholastic Rowing Association of America Regatta, which serves as the national championship for high school rowers. That regatta alone brings 5,000 competitors and up to 15,000 spectators to the banks of the Cooper River. The Cooper River also holds the record for the largest U.S. Rowing event in history that was held in the summer of 2014.
“Having the ability and capacity to host some of the largest rowing events in the nation is an economic boon to Camden County,” Nash said. “This body of water is a special place for rowers and outdoor enthusiasts throughout our region and generates countless benefits for residents, businesses and the overall community by drawing competitors from across the country.”
The total cost of the dredging and water quality project was $12 million, with a portion of that money coming from grant funds and the remainder being invested through the county’s capital budget.
Other improvements scheduled for Cooper River Park not only protect the park by creating a new riparian buffer along its banks, it will also uncover the park by expanding its river views and bring the public back to the water’s edge. The plan also addresses the park’s surface cover, access, topography and storm water management so that Cooper River Park continues to contribute to the overall quality of life for the residents of Camden County.
Below is a list of the currently scheduled regattas:
March 25 Murphy Cup
April 2 Doc Hosea Invitational Regatta
April 8 Steve Neczypor Memorial Regatta
April 29 Garden States Scholastic Championship
April 30 Cooper Cup
May 6 Atlantic 10 Championships
May 12 Patriot League Championships
May 14 Ivy League Championships
May 25-27 SRAA Regatta
June 24 Masters Race
July 29 Dragon Boat Festival
August 5 Dragon Boat Festival