Northeast
The hopper dredge Currituck maneuvers in the Stage Harbor entrance channel last Friday. ALAN POLLOCK PHOTO

MA - It's Sand Shifting Season: Dredging Underway At Two Locations

Ambitious dredging operations, each with their own special challenges, are now underway at two key waterways. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredge Currituck is currently clearing the bottleneck in the Stage Harbor entrance channel, and about a mile-and-a-half away, a private dredge is clearing a channel to Outermost Harbor.

At Stage Harbor, crews are clearing away substantial shoaling at the harbor entrance, “and they have a substantial job ahead of them,” Chatham Coastal Resources Director Ted Keon said. While the Currituck crew has encountered serious sand bars outside the harbor in the past, “they’ve admitted that this is the most challenging that they’ve seen in their time coming here,” he said.

At most tides, the water is so shallow in the middle of the channel that the dredge has difficulty operating. The shoaling is so severe that, as of early this week, it had completely immobilized one channel marker buoy such that the Coast Guard could not remove it prior to the dredging. Fighting strong currents in and out of the harbor, and coming from the Morris Island Cut to the east, the Currituck has had trouble dredging as it normally does, and may need to work from the edges of the channel where water is deeper. Dredge spoils are being deposited a short distance offshore, where it is hoped the sand will migrate to Nantucket Sound beaches to provide much-needed nourishment.

As always, there is concern that the channel they clear might be short-lived. With prime boating season still many months away, there is ample opportunity for coastal storms to undo the dredge’s progress, Keon said. The dredge crew planned to be working in Chatham for around three weeks.

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