Selectmen in Wellfleet Give Go Ahead for Harbor Dredging

Photo courtesy: Wellfletet SPAT A lack of dredging has made Wellfleet Harbor nearly inaccessible at low tide

Photo courtesy: Wellfletet SPAT
A lack of dredging has made Wellfleet Harbor nearly inaccessible at low tide

WELLFLEET – The town of Wellfleet is moving forward with possible plans to dredge Wellfleet Harbor.

Officials were given the okay by selectmen to submit a notice of intent under the Wetlands Protection Act and apply for a permit through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The project, which has an estimated price tag of $13 million, would dredge over 38 acres to a depth of six feet below mean low water.

Wellfleet Harbormaster Michael Flanagan says the harbor was last dredged about 15 years ago and needs to be done again.

“We restrict launches and any movement within the harbor for around 2 hours either side of low tide because it’s just too shallow and too muddy for people to transit the area,” Flanagan said.

He estimates the town loses about $100,000 each year because of the tidal restrictions.

Flanagan said after the harbor gets dredged it begins filling almost immediately from the upland creeks and estuaries.

“Just over time it keeps filling in until the point where the channels that were dredged are full and now the sediment starts spreading out further throughout the harbor,” he said. “As the days go by it just gets worse and worse.”

The sediment has also started smothering some of the shellfish grant areas that are down close to the harbor, according to Flanagan.

Flanagan hopes to have the dredging work completed within the next two to three years.

“That’s if everything lines up – the permitting and the funding,” he said. “Dredging permits are some of the toughest permits to get done with the state and the federal government.”

Flanagan said the town has created a task force and is moving in the right direction.

The possible project would follow a federal dredging project in the area.

“It has to happen if we want to have a viable harbor,” he said. “And Wellfleet Harbor is a very important piece of our town.”

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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