WESTBROOK – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New England District recently announced that maintenance dredging will be performed for the Patchogue River at the request of the Town of Westbrook.
The project will include maintenance dredging of the existing channel and anchorage from Long Island Sound, through the inlet to the confluence of the Patchogue and Menunketesuck Rivers and continue upstream to the Route 1 highway bridge.
The site undergoes regularly monitoring through the Corps’ Disposal Area Monitoring System
According to Curtis Talken, District Engineer, “studies have shown that the energy regime at this site is the highest of all the dredged material disposal sites in Long Island Sound.”
The channel provides access to and from the Long Island Sound to public and private boating facilities along the Patchogue and Menunketesuck River.
“Natural shoaling processes have reduced available depths in parts of the channel and anchorage since the last maintenance dredging in 1997-98 making navigation in this harbor difficult. Maintenance dredging of about 30,000 cubic yards of material will restore the project to its authorized dimensions” said Corps New England District Project Manager Jack Karalius.
The proposed maintenance dredging will be performed by a private contractor contracted with the government which will remove the material and place it into scows that will be towed by tug to the Cornfield Shoals Disposal Site which is 3.3 nautical miles south of Cornfield Point in Old Saybrook.
The dredged material underwent physical, chemical, and biological testing and meets criteria as specified in the Ocean Dumping Act regulations.
The material is acceptable for unconfined open water disposal according to the Corps and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Predominately fine-grained silt with minor amounts of sand, tests of the dredged material concludes it is too silty for beach nourishment.
Preliminary determinations indicate the dredging will not affect an endangered species or critical habitat and is unlikely to affect any cultural or archeological features or resources.
However, Talken said that “dredging may have a temporary adverse effect on Essential Fish Habitat” but that “there will be no significant impacts on the designated fisheries resources.”
The Corps will consult with the National Marine Fisheries Services and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to “ensure that all impacts will be minimized and would not significantly affect those resources,” Talken said.
An Environmental Assessment for this work will be made available for review upon request.
“The work will be performed during a three to four-month period, between about Oct. 1 and Jan. 31 and will be accomplished in the year or years in which funds become available, contingent upon availability of necessary approvals,” Karalius said.
The last maintenance dredging of the area was last performed from October 1997 to February 1998 when 29,000 cubic yards of material were removed by mechanical dredge, Karalius said.
Public comments on the proposed maintenance dredging project should be sent to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Programs and Management Division (ATTN: Mr. Jack Karalius), 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742-2751 by Sept. 2, 2006.