As water flows it sends sediments downstream which settle and deposit in harbors and channels. Dredging is the process of digging those sediments out to create clear and navigable waterways for us to enjoy. While dredging is an economic necessity to keep our channels clear, the dredging of sediments in and around municipalities helps protect fish, wildlife and ourselves from harmful pollutants that contaminate the sediments in these areas. Dredged materials can also be used to create living shorelines, beach nourishment, thin layer deposition and other techniques to increase resiliency of the North Shore coast.
MVPC wanted to know if dredging would be a cost effective way to increase coastal resiliency on the North Shore and protect the health of our ecosystems. Would it be more cost effective for North Shore communities to buy their own regional dredging equipment or outsource the work to a private entity? MVPC hired the Woods Hole Group to research this coastal resiliency strategy and determine the cost efficiency. The group presented their final results to the North East Coastal Coalition last month. The coastal towns of Amesbury, Newbury, Newburport, Rowley, Ipswich, Essex, Gloucester, Salisbury and Manchester were surveyed for input on the dredging process. Previous dredging research was evaluated to determine the volume and mineralogy of the channel which helped inform the assessment.
Based on the Woods Hole study, contracting with a private company could prove to be more economical due to the assessment of dredge equipment cost. Logistically this might also prove to be the simplest solution for the region, however a task force of North Shore entities will be created to continue to investigate the study further before final determinations are made.