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Army Corps: It's Time for Pawcatuck River to be Dredged

The proposed work involves maintenance dredging of approximately 60,000 cubic yards of sandy material from approximately 8-acres.

Aerial view of Pawcatuck River. (Photo by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)
Aerial view of Pawcatuck River. (Photo by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

The following is a press release from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District is proposing maintenance dredging of the Pawcatuck River, Little Narragansett Bay, and Watch Hill Cove Federal Navigation Project (FNP) in Westerly, Rhode Island, and Stonington, Conn. The state of Rhode Island is the local sponsor for this proposed work.

The proposed work involves maintenance dredging of approximately 60,000 cubic yards of sandy material from approximately 8-acres within the 10-foot deep MLLW by 100-foot wide entrance channel extending approximately 3 miles from Stonington Point, into Little Narragansett Bay to an area west of Wequetequock Cove.

“Hurricane Sandy impacted the project and shoaling in the channel around the tip of Sandy Point has reduced available depths, making navigation hazardous at lower stages of the tide,” said Project Manager Daniel Stenstream, of the Corps’ New England District, Programs/Project Management Division in Concord, Mass. “This dredging project will restore the channel around the Island to the authorized 10-foot depth below MLLW to accommodate the present navigation requirements and will limit the removal of shoal material to only sand.”

Dredging will be performed by a pipeline cutterhead dredge, and the dredged sand will be pumped onto Sandy Point Island as a beneficial use to mitigate for adverse impacts to piping plover habitat caused by the dredging. Also, vegetation on the new tip of the Island will be removed to provide premium nesting habitat for piping plovers. 

Work will take place over a four-month period in the year in which approvals are obtained. Funding for this effort was in included in the “Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013.”

Dredging was last performed in 1996-97 when approximately 47,000 cubic yards of material was dredged and placed on Sandy Point. An Environmental Assessment for this proposed work is being prepared and will be available for review. 

The authorized Federal navigation project provides for a 10-foot deep Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) channel, 100-feet wide from Stonington Point through Little Narragansett Bay to Avondale, a length of about 3 miles, to the lower wharves in Westerly, a length of about 4 miles, and then 40-feet wide between lower and upper wharves of Westerly to 7-feet deep; a 10-foot deep channel, 100-feet wide, from the mouth of the river into Watch Hill Cove; a 16-acre anchorage basin in the Cove, 10-feet deep; and a 200-foot long riprap jetty near the southwest corner of the basin.

The public notice for this proposed work, with more detailed information, is available for review on the Corps website

Public comments on this proposed work should be forwarded no later than April 17, 2014, to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Programs/Project Management Division (ATTN: Mr. Daniel Stenstream), 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742-2751 or by email to nae-pn-nav@usace.army.mil.

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