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Edgartown Looks to Bolster South Beach With Dredged Sands

South Beach in Edgartown has been hit hard this winter by a trio of storms.

Posted on January 31, 2024

The state Department of Environmental Protection Monday granted Edgartown emergency authorization to dredge Katama Bay, clearing the way for a project intended to help restore the storm-battered South Beach.

In a meeting with town officials earlier this month, the select board declared a local state of emergency after the Island was hit with three strong winter storms. The declaration was made in part to secure time-sensitive state and federal funding.

The town estimated that the winter storms have caused upwards of $1.7 million in damages, and officials submitted an application to the state emergency management agency to receive aid.

A majority of recovery work will be remediating South Beach for public access in time for the summer tourist season. Phase one of beach nourishment alone is estimated to cost $709,050.

Before that beach nourishment can happen, however, the town must get some sand.

Conservation agent Jane Varkonda submitted the request to start dredging Katama Bay earlier this month directly after the storm on Jan. 13.

Edgartown is the only Island town with its own dredging program, an asset that has proved increasingly valuable over the years as winter storms continue to pummel the Island’s South Shore. Before the town declared a state of emergency, the dredging department had been scheduled to shut down for the season. This authorization allows the department to continue, Ms. Varkonda explained.

The town is still waiting on the full response from MEMA that would facilitate the rest of its restoration efforts. Town officials estimated the cost to replace the area’s lifeguard facilities, now sitting precariously on the beach, at $400,000. Repairs to Atlantic Drive, the main point of access to South Beach, are expected to cost $21,685.


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