Posted on September 13, 2016
By Brittany Feldott, The Falmouth Enterprise
Plans to dredge Wild Harbor will be delayed, following the completion of a beach nourishment survey that verified the need to remove more sand than previously expected.
“The bottom line is not good news,” Harbor Master Gregg P. Fraser said at a meeting of the Falmouth Waterways Committee on Wednesday, September 7.
The comprehensive permit originally granted for the dredging project allows for the removal of 1,600 cubic yards of sand from the area. Original plans were to temporarily store the displaced sand on a town-owned parcel of land on the south side of the harbor’s entrance jetty.
However, Barnstable County Dredge later estimated that in order to dredge the entire harbor to a mean low water depth of six feet, the town would need to remove about 9,500 cubic yards of sand.
Since then, Bourne Consulting Engineering has conducted a beach nourishment survey to identify the full area that needs to be dredged, based on beach elevations and the limits of beach grass in the area.
The company also assessed whether the town could fit the displaced sand on the parcel, if the harbor were only dredged to a mean low water depth of three feet.
The survey found that even with a limited dredging, the town would have to remove 2,273 cubic yards of sand in order to renourish the full area, which still exceeds the holding capacity of the town-owned parcel.
At the meeting Wednesday, September 7, Mr. Fraser suggested pursuing the full project and asking abutters to the town-owned parcel for permission to store sand on their properties.
The waterways committee was previously denied permission by two abutters. Mr. Fraser noted that, at the time, the property owners were in a dispute with the conservation commission over a separate issue.
“I’ve never seen anybody that was going to get free sand turn it down, except for these people,” he said. “They were using it as a leverage against the town, no question about it. But maybe they’ve had a change of heart.”
Some of the sand that is dredged will be used for beach stabilization and to replenish eroded areas of nearby coastal areas.
Resident and former committee member Edward A. Denton asked whether it would be possible to sell the sand to a local contractor for direct removal, rather than store the sand temporarily for town reuse.
Mr. Fraser said that if the beach committee wanted the sand to replenish local beaches, the waterways committee would show deference to it as a town entity. However, Mr. Fraser noted that the process would be costly, as the town would also have to pay for the transportation and dewatering of the sand.
Mr. Denton said giving the sand away to a sand and gravel provider or a Title V contractor might offer a less costly solution to the town, if the contractor were willing to do the transportation work in exchange.
The committee decided to simultaneously contact abutters to the town-owned parcel and investigate the possibility of selling or giving away the sand to a private contractor.
In either case, the committee will need to seek an updated permit for the project in order to remove more sand.
Source: The Falmouth Enterprise