Army Corps Passes Again on Wellfleet Harbor Dredging Project

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Posted January 3, 2019

Town officials in Wellfleet are beginning to focus on the possibility of tackling the long awaited dredging of Wellfleet Harbor without federal support.

The Army Corps of Engineers once again left the project off its 2019 operation and maintenance work plan.

“I would say this is the second year that we really thought we had done everything that we needed to do to be included in the funding,” said Dan Hoort, the town administrator.

The federal channel that provides access to the marina from Cape Cod Bay has not been dredged in over 20 years.

The channel and the inner harbor are getting filled with a black sludge that is causing issues for shellfishing and boating.

“One of the things that is most frustrating is that you don’t know where you have fallen off on the project,” Hoort said.

Hoort said town officials don’t know why the project has been passed over but did not rule out the small size of the harbor or political reasons.

The entire project to dredge the harbor has an estimated price tag of $20 million and would have a three year timetable.

The cost of dredging of the south and north channels in the harbor would probably be split between the town and the state. That work would not be able to be completed until the federal channel is cleared.

The town has made its first deposit into its maintenance dredging fund.

“I think that’s a good sign to show both the state of Massachusetts and the federal officials that we are serious about getting our harbor dredged,” Hoort said.

Hoort said the town may need to take on the financial responsibility of dredging the federal channel on its own.

“We can’t keep waiting year after year for them to come through and do it,” Hoort said. “There may be a time that the town of Wellfleet is going to have to look at it and say we are going to have to dredge the federal channel even though you would look at it and say it’s not our responsibility.”

Hoort said the town can’t afford to not have the area dredged.

“That black mayonnaise that continues to grow and the sediments in our habor will continue to have the effect of smothering our shellfish industry,” he said. “It’s just too important to us.”

The town will appoint a new Harbor Dredging committee to further examining the dredging of the federal channel.

Hoort said the town is already researching buying its own equipment and having staff trained to complete the dredging work.

“It also might be another sign to federal officials,” he said.