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$75,000 Dredging Planning Project for Essex County
September 27, 1995
Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management (CZM), in partnership with Essex County, is implementing a $75,000 project to evaluate County dredging needs and landfill cover and beach nourishment opportunities. This Project of Special Merit is made possible through a federal grant from the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA). CZM will work with other state agencies, federal agencies, and local officials to implement the project.
Congressman Peter G. Torkildsen commented, "This project is a victory for North Shore communities in need of landfill material and for our valuable coastline. I fought to maintain funding for the Coastal Zone Management Act so that innovative projects such as this can receive the necessary federal assistance. I will continue to support effective coastal zone management proposals in Congress."
Peg Brady, Director of CZM, explained, "The dredging planning project for Essex County is an excellent example of how the Coastal Zone Management Act directly helps communities in Massachusetts. We are pleased to be able to use CZMA funds to turn the dredge material 'problem' into a great opportunity for providing landfill cover, sand for eroding beaches, and other beneficial purposes."
Through this project, CZM will develop methods of using dredged material as a resource in North Shore municipalities, rather than simply disposing of the material. One of several options that will be explored is the use of dredged material as landfill cover. To accomplish this goal, CZM will analyze landfill cover needs in the region and then "match" dredging projects in Essex County with specific landfills where the dredged material is appropriate to use for daily cover or grading. CZM will also evaluate the dredged material to ensure that odors and toxics are not a problem. Another option is to use clean and sandy dredged material on beaches in the area. CZM will identify beaches in need of nourishment and "match" appropriate dredging projects with those areas. After appropriate landfill and beach sites are identified, a management plan will be developed with Essex County that will outline how the County can serve as a regional broker between towns that need to dredge and towns that need material for landfill cover or beach nourishment. CZM is pursuing this as a pilot-scale project to develop a workable framework for dredged material disposal throughout the state.
A dredging plan will benefit ports and harbors throughout Essex County by allowing the dredging process to move ahead in a timely and cost-effective fashion. The dredging of North Shore harbors will ensure that commercial and recreational shipping and boating activities can continue. In addition, the development of a management plan will reduce the cost to municipalities of disposing of the material, reduce the cost of obtaining landfill cover, and provide a source of sand for eroding beaches. At the conclusion of the project in July, 1996, CZM and Essex County will have developed an effective tool that municipalities can use to approach dredging activities not as expensive, time-consuming projects, but as opportunities to improve their waterways and generate material with real local and regional value.
CZMA, which makes this and other coastal project possible, is facing some tough battles in
Congress, however. Congressman Jim Saxton (R-NJ), along with over 80 congressional co-sponsors
including Representative Peter Torkildsen, has introduced a federal bill to reauthorize CZMA. If
CZMA is not reauthorized this year, it will put the states' coastal programs into limbo. Hearings will
be held on Saxton's bill (H.R. 1965) on September 12 and will be pivotal for reauthorization. These
hearings will be held before the House Resources Committee, Chaired by Congressman Don Young
(R-AK). Reauthorization is not the only battle facing CZMA budget cuts are also a threat. In July,
the House Commerce, Judicial & State Appropriations Subcommittee voted for a national CZMA
budget of $41 million, which represents a 10% reduction.