Merrimack River Beach Alliance: Dredging Options Discussed

Massachusetts State Senator, Kathleen O’Connor Ives, last week participated in the monthly meeting of the Merrimack River Beach Alliance.

The state legislative delegation for Newburyport, Salisbury and Newbury – Old Town, Plum Island and Village of Byfield met with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, and other leaders to discuss strategies for improving coastal resiliency.

The meeting was chaired by State Senator Bruce Tarr and Jerry Klima, town moderator for the Town of Salisbury.

On the agenda were an update from Ed O’Donnell, Chief, Navigation Section at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, and an update from legislators.

There are several potential harbor dredges currently under consideration by the Army Corps that could happen over the next few years, offering the possibility of procurement of sand for beach and dune nourishment,” said Senator O’Connor Ives in her announcement.

One is the Piscataqua River dredge in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Newburyport, Newbury and Salisbury, as a group, have expressed an interest in the 750,000 cubic yards of sand the dredge is likely to yield.

Hull is also interested. Ed let the group know that now Scituate has expressed an interest as well,” the senator added.

“Communities need to apply for state permits through DEP. There is a cost for permitting and for receiving the sand. The estimate at the cost of hauling the sand is $3-4 per cubic yard which is very inexpensive – a once in a lifetime opportunity to buy sand for so little.”

The other potential dredge is a Newburyport Harbor, currently authorized but not funded – an Army Corps project that would be funded by the federal government. It could happen in the next year or two but has to be funded first.


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