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Maintenance dredging begins at Ninigret Pond

February 3, 2012

Photo by Anthony aRusso

A worker walks along the pipes during the last day of setup before the pumping, Tuesday, Jan. 31.

CHARLESTOWN - The shores of Ninigret Pond near the Charlestown Breach-way will be the site of heavy machinery and hard working crews for the next two months or so, and while it may look and sound like an industrial war-zone, the end result of the campaign could greatly benefit the pond’s natural habitat.

In an effort to preserve eelgrass beds in the pond, which serve as a natural nursery for all sorts of species of fish, the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) will be conducting a maintenance dredging project at Ninigret Pond, in conjunction with the town of Charlestown.

The dredging will be done as part of the South Coast Restoration Project, an undertaking designed to adequately maintain sedimentation basins, which are designed to trap sand as it surges through breachways.

The sedimentation basin in Ninigret Pond at the breachway has collected sand at an accelerated rate in recent years, which has suffocated the eelgrass, and caused CRMC to intervene.

“We had originally created a sedimentation basin when we did the dredging project, and the idea was for the state to maintain it every 10 years,” said Laura Dwyer, CRMC public educator and information coordinator. “However, it is happening at a much faster rate than we originally thought.”

The original dredging project was done just three years ago, but because the sedimentation basin has filled up so quickly, the eelgrass beds in the pond are currently threatened.

“Eelgrass is a native aquatic plant growing in a lot of ponds and tidal areas,” Dwyer said. “There is a lot of ecological value in it.”

The plant helps to sustain fertile fish and shellfish breeding areas, which are important to the ecosystem, but the shifting sands at the Charlestown Breachway have spelled danger for the eelgrass in Ninigret Pond.

For more information, pick up a copy of The Chariho Times.

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers
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