Posted on April 25, 2017
By Jack Shea, Newburyport News
The Merrimack River Beach Alliance is continuing discussion about plans to dredge sand from the Merrimack and Piscataqua Rivers that would be used on area beaches to protect houses threatened by beach erosion.
The MRBA met with Department of Conservation and Army Corps Engineers representatives Friday morning to discuss plans for the project, which aims to dredge 600,000 cubic yards of sand from the two rivers and use it to build up beaches affected by erosion in Salisbury and Newbury.
The project is being funded by a $2 million environmental bond bill, which state Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, said would only be able to cover one of the projects. For this reason, Tarr said the Piscataqua River project may not continue, but the alliance and state officials plan to apply for a pilot program that would give them a non-federal sponsorship and allow them to complete both projects.
Tarr said that while exact locations where the sand will be dumped have not been determined, models are being created to help determine the locations that would best benefit the beaches. Once the models are complete, team members will be able to begin the process of acquiring permits.
Officials pointed to the need to move the process along, raising concerns that decisions still needing to be made may continue to delay work.
“Time is ticking away and the project is moving forward, but if you don’t have permits in place it’s not going to happen,” said Ed O’Donnell, chief of navigation services for the regional division of the Corps of Engineers.
Beach alliance members also raised concerns about protecting dunes on Plum Island from tourists in the coming weeks. They are considering plans to hang temporary signs to keep people from walking in dune restoration areas.
The group’s next meeting will be at 11 a.m. on Friday, May 5 at the Plum Island Taxpayers’ Association Hall. It will be a critical meeting, Tarr said, and the team will likely make a decision on whether plans to chase the Piscataqua River project will halt or continue.
State Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, D-Newburyport, and state Rep. Jim Kelcourse, R-Amesbury, also attended the meeting on Friday.
Source: Newburyport News