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Corps Seeks Comments for Patchogue River Maintenance

The New England District, Corps of Engineers has issued a 15-day public notice involving maintenance dredging in the federal navigation channel in the Patchogue River, Westbrook, Connecticut.

The comment period runs from March 17 through April 6.

The channel has an authorized depth of 8 feet MLLW and width of 124 feet from deep water in Long Island Sound, extending north about 1850 feet through the inlet to the confluence of the Patchogue and Menunketesuck Rivers. The channel then narrows to 75 feet wide and continues upstream about 3,480 feet to the U.S. Route 1 highway bridge at Westbrook. The channel is widened to 80 feet through the bend abreast the Westbrook town wharf.

The proposed work involves maintenance dredging of a portion of the entrance channel.

A Public Notice was issued by the Corps of Engineers for this project in August 2006, calling for full maintenance of the Patchogue channel, including the mechanical dredging of about 30,000 cubic yards of material, with disposal at the Cornfield Shoals Disposal Site in Long Island Sound.

All appropriate environmental approvals were secured to perform that work. Unfortunately, there are not enough federal funds to perform a full-scale maintenance dredging project. However, now federal funds are available to perform a partial dredging project of the shallowest areas of the entrance channel. The proposal is to dredge the most shoaled portion of the entrance channel to -8 feet mean lower low water (MLLW). This proposal will remove about 10,000 cubic yards of mostly sand from the entrance channel by use of the Government-owned hopper Dredge Currituck. The dredge will place the material in the littoral zone offshore of Hammonasset State Beach, inside the 20-foot contour. The material will then be spread throughout the beach and the littoral zones by natural wave action.

This work is anticipated to take place between May and June 2010, pending coordination with the state and federal resource agencies.

The Town of Westbrook has requested this maintenance dredging.

The channel provides access to and from Long Island Sound to the public and private boating facilities of Westbrook along the Patchogue River. The entrance channel also serves the boating facilities located on the Menunketesuck River. There are approximately 1600 boat slips on the Patchogue River. There are marina facilities, boat dealers, and many other marine-related businesses including repair and service shops, sail and canvas repair and makers, bait and tackle shops, sailing lessons business, and sightseeing and charter fishing boat businesses. Natural shoaling processes have reduced available depths in parts of the channel since the last maintenance dredging in 1997-1998 – making navigation in this harbor difficult.

Without dredging, channel conditions will continue to deteriorate, which will deter and/or interfere with the use of the harbor by recreational and commercial vessels.

Dredging the Patchogue River with the Currituck will alleviate some of the navigation problems for the
local and visiting vessel fleet.

The completion of the balance of the dredging work to bring the entire channel to its authorized dimensions will depend on the availability of future federal funds and environmental approvals.

The original project was authorized by the River and Harbor Act of September 3, 1954 and was completed in 1956. The project was modified by the Chief of Engineers on April 12, 1983, under the authority of Section 107 of the River and Harbor Act of 1960, to widen the entrance channel from Long Island Sound to 125 feet. The Water Resources Development Act of 1996 further modified the project to its present configuration.

The material to be dredged has undergone physical, chemical, and biological testing and is expected to satisfy the criteria for near-shore placement off of Hammonasset State Beach, in Madison, Connecticut.

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