Chatham Considers Plan to Examine Coastal Flooding, Shoreline Erosion

CHATHAM – Following a string of brutal winter storms, which lead to substantial flooding and erosion on the Cape’s coast, town officials in Chatham are looking into developing a plan to deal with the issue in the future.

Chatham’s Natural Resources Department is recommending that the town conduct an eastern shoreline study assessing conditions from Pleasant Bay to Stage Harbor in order to develop a strategy for future coastal management.

“There’s been a number of studies and effort through the Pleasant Bay Alliance and the town to look at specific issues: the impacts on the barrier beach and sea level rise,” said Chatham Natural Resources Director Robert Duncanson, “What we’re looking to do with this study it kind of put all that together and one larger comprehensive look.

The $250,000 study would be directed by the Center for Coastal Studies and Applied Coastal Engineering and could begin as early as this summer.

Throughout the study, which is expected to last nine months, researchers would look into storm impacts on town beaches and revetments, as well as assess where the eroded beach sand is going and consider options for repair and protection moving forward.

“More things have been happening more frequently,” explained Duncanson, “It may just be part of the overall system make up. To what extent sea level rise or climate change might be accelerating that we all don’t know, maybe it’s not having any impact maybe it is having an impact.”

Officials are already investigating funding mechanisms for the assessment which could come through grant opportunities with the Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management Office, which has millions of dollars available for coastal resilience efforts.

If the town is unable to secure state funds, the money could be secured through an $11 million waterways bond already approved by the town or by authoring an article for the fall town meeting.   

Duncanson says that he plans to bring a detailed proposal for the project before the Board of Selectmen in the coming weeks.

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