USA: CRMC Unveils Ninigret Dredging Plan

The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), in cooperation with the Town of Charlestown, will be conducting a maintenance dredging of the sedimentation basin in Ninigret Pond, as part of the South Coast Restoration project.

The dredging will be done to maintain flow and sedimentation to an area where eelgrass restoration done in previous years has been successful. Portions of the delta were previously dredged as part of the South Coast Restoration Project to create eelgrass habitat, and a sedimentation basin was created to prevent sediment from reaching the restoration areas and burying the restored eelgrass.

The project has been made possible because of financial contributions by the Town of Charlestown, which provided one-third of the projected cost. The State was able to pay the remainder by rearranging funds allocated for other portions of the South Coast project, which had been budgeted for maintenance purposes.

While the initial project was successful in restoring the eelgrass beds in a two-acre seeded section, as well as the remaining unseeded areas, sedimentation has occurred at a faster rate than anticipated. Because of this, the CRMC has had to adjust the maintenance dredging schedule from its original 10 years to three, and will dredge to eight feet below mean high water, prior to the first schedule dredge.

Sand dredged from the sedimentation basin will by hydraulically deposited into the intertidal beach (just offshore) at Charlestown Town Beach, so that it will naturally wash ashore to create beach habitat used by Piping Plover and other important species. Eelgrass, an important native aquatic plant that grows in shallow sub-tidal areas, functions as a nursery, refuge and feeding ground for many marine species.

“The CRMC is pleased that this maintenance dredging of the tidal delta can take place, thanks in large part to the Town of Charlestown,” said Grover Fugate, CRMC executive director. “Without the town’s contribution, this project would not have been realized, and the eelgrass beds in Ninigret Pond would have remained in jeopardy.”

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Dredging Today Staff, February 7, 2012;

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