Pawcatuck CSRM Study Complete, Coastal Protection Plan on the Way

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ New England District has completed the Pawcatuck River Coastal Storm Risk Management (CSRM) feasibility study and now is proposing a plan to reduce potential storm and flooding impacts to Westerly, Charlestown, South Kingstown and Narragansett, RI.

Image source: USACE

The study area included about 28 miles of moderately developed coast in the towns in Washington County.

The floodplain completely encompasses the coastal barrier beaches and salt ponds in the area. There is a demonstrated need for coastal resiliency measures to be implemented in south coastal Rhode Island. Residential and commercial properties in the Pawcatuck River coastal floodplain are all vulnerable to inundation from coastal storms,” said USACE.

This study was conducted under the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 for Hurricane Sandy impacts, according to Project Manager Christopher Hatfield, of the Corps of Engineers, New England District, Planning Division in Concord, Mass.

The Recommended Plan for the Pawcatuck River CSRM project consists of elevating the first floors of 247 structures in the four study area communities.

The first floors will be elevated to a height corresponding to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) designated Base Flood Elevation (BFE), ranging from +11 feet North Atlantic Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD88) to +17 feet NAVD88, plus 1 additional foot in accordance with Corps/NFIP standards, 0.8 feet to account for intermediate sea level rise over the next 50 years, and another 0.2 feet to account for sea level rise which has occurred since the current sea level was published (1992) to present.

The proposed plan was coordinated with: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service; Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, Office of Water Resources, Bureau of Natural Resources, Division of Fish and Wildlife – Marine Fisheries; Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council; The Nature Conservancy, Rhode Island Chapter; Save the Bay; Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association; Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission; Narragansett Indian Tribe – Tribal Historic Preservation Office; and the towns of Westerly, Charlestown, South Kingstown and Narragansett.