$2 million dredging project begins at Quonochontaug Pond

CHARLESTOWN, Rhode Island — For the first time since the construction of the breachway in 1904, the Quonochontaugsalt pond, which straddles Charlestown and Westerly, is being dredged. The project is expected to cost about $2 million. A federal Coastal Resilience grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is providing $980,000.

The equipment was delivered on Dec. 7 and the work, which is being done by J.F. Brennan Inc. of Lacrosse, Wisconsin, began Dec. 10 and is continuing 24 hours a day, six days a week. It is expected to be completed by the end of January, well before mid-February when the winter flounder spawning season begins. No dredging is allowed at that time.

Laura Dwyer, spokeswoman for the state Coastal Management Resources Council, said the project would involve habitat enhancement as well as dredging.

“They’re going to be dredging the breachway, and then they’re going to  be doing another east-west channel for dredged material, to improve the depth there to be optimal for eelgrass growth,” she said. “To the east of the breachway, there’s a small barrier spit that will be restored with grass. It will kind of act as a small beach for recreational purposes. Historically, it was used as such and was a little strip of beach, but it is now submerged quite often.”

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