Consultant To Oversee County Dredge Program

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A push boat and the M/V Sand Shifter, a dredge operated by Barnstable County, sit inside Popponesset Bay. Weather and coronavirus concerns have delayed dredging. RYAN SPENCER/ENTERPRISE

Posted May 3, 2020

After a season of dredging disrupted repeatedly by high winds and the outbreak of the coronavirus, Barnstable County is using a contracted engineering firm to develop a five-year business plan for the county’s dredge program.

Christine Player, an engineer for Marion-based Foth Engineering LLC, will lead the development of the plan, which she expects will be completed by November.

Presenting to the county’s Board of Regional Commissioners on April 19, Ms. Foth detailed the goals of the business plan and updated the commissioners on the ongoing dredge work, which has been stalled by high winds and the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Speaking before the commissioners, Barnstable County Administrator John Yunits Jr. said that the commissioners had decided to bring in an outside consultant to help oversee the county’s dredge program as it expanded.

After a request for qualifications, the county contracted with Foth Engineering, which assigned Ms. Player to help run the dredge program. Ms. Player has been working with the county for about six months, Mr. Yunits said.

Ms. Player said that dredging is subject to time-of-year permitting restrictions, usually limiting the work to from the end of September until the first of April, although extensions can be granted.

She said that this year, a third of this window was disrupted by high winds.

“The weather has been a significant factor,” she said. “Winds have been consistent throughout the entire season.”

Ms. Player said that if not for delays caused by the weather, the county has the capacity to serve the dredging needs across the region, although she said a hydraulic booster used in dredging will need to be repaired.

Ms. Player has begun collecting information about town dredging needs through a survey to towns, which she said will be used to plan dredge work for future years and ensure that the county’s dredge program has the necessary equipment and workforce to meet the dredging needs of Cape Cod’s towns.

Included in the survey, Ms. Player said, is a “five-year look ahead,” where towns estimate their dredging needs over a five-year period. This information will give the dredge staff a better sense of the demand for dredging services in the years to come, she said.

“That’s going to help us identify demand,” she said, “in terms of making sure that we can have a balance in terms of the demand and the rates that are being charged by the county for a break-even operation to be sustainable.”

Ms. Player said the goal is to collect information through the survey and in-house sources that will allow her to draft recommendations on “how to move [the dredge program] forward.”

In drafting the recommendations, Ms. Player said, she will consider equipment needs, maintenance costs, labor needs and drafting job postings, all while keeping in mind the demand for the upcoming year to ensure the county can meet the dredging needs of the region.

Source: capenews