WBUR Boston

MA - Senate committee passes bill authorizing Plum Island erosion study

The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed a pair of bills this week that include a provision authorizing a feasibility study for a comprehensive erosion control project on Plum Island.

America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 and the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 passed the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Wednesday. Together, the bills aim to expedite replacement of Cape Cod Canal bridges, increase funding for clean drinking water in small and disadvantaged communities, offer new grants for wastewater infrastructure and improve coastal resilience in Massachusetts.

The Plum Island Feasibility study authorized by the legislation “is a necessary first step toward developing a regional approach to managing sediment, controlling coastal erosion, encouraging maritime development, and protecting human life and property from the seasonal storms that have degraded this vital coastline,” according to a press release.

Mayor Donna Holaday said that while the bill has yet to be funded and signed, she is excited at its passage and is hopeful that it can help Newburyport and Newbury combat erosion on Plum Island.

“Because this issue is non-ending, we really do need to come up with a long-term plan, and any support we can have to address this issue is encouraging,” said Holaday. “This still has to go through several hoops before funding is attached to it, but it’s very comprehensive and I’m very pleased to see it.”