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Washed-Up Dredge Pipes Removed

An unused dredge pipe rests on Surf Drive Beach.

Posted on June 3, 2024

The sections of dredge pipes that washed ashore along Surf Drive during early winter and stayed there until this spring may have done the beach some good.

This is according to Kenneth J. Cirillo, the Barnstable County Dredge director.

He said the pipes likely prevented wave damage and beach erosion along this section of beach throughout the stormy winter season.

The pipe originally washed up in December from the storm-churned waters of Vineyard Sound, where they were being stored in between dredging projects.

Dredge staff had loaded the pipes with sand and sunk them to the bottom of the sound. They sunk the pipes in a sandy area in deep water far from vessel traffic, Mr. Cirillo said, and no eelgrass was nearby. The pipes were anchored down with cables and marked with GPS coordinates, so staff would know where to find them.

“They make a great habitat for critters like barnacles until we move them again,” Mr. Cirillo said.

Mr. Cirillo said dredge staff are limited in the land-side places where they can keep unused equipment. Staff have been asked to leave pipes underwater at the base of spits over the past few years.

“Finding locations on land where the pipe can be stored is one of our single biggest challenges,” Mr. Cirillo said.

This spring, dredge staff collected the pieces on Surf Drive Beach, in collaboration with the Department of Public Works. Using a parking lot along Surf Drive, Mr. Cirillo said staff cut off damaged sections of the pipe and welded the pieces back together over the course of several days. Deputy DPW Director Steven P. Cadorette said the pipe is made of a kind of plastic.

The pipes are connected to the back of a dredge, and churned-up sediment is channeled through them. Depending on the specific project, Mr. Cirillo said, the pipes send the dredged material from short distances up to more than 10,000 feet away. Staff generally used the sediment to nourish beaches.

Mr. Cirillo said staff most recently used the pipes to complete a dredging project in Green Pond, which was completed May 20. On Wednesday, May 29, dredge staff were busy moving the pipes and the dredge out of the harbor and now await their next two projects in Harwich, Mr. Cirillo said, pending time-of-year restrictions for horseshoe crabs.


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