Dredging Proposed for Little Narragansett Bay, Watch Hill

The Pawcatuck River flows through the east side of the Pawcatuck section of Stonington into Little Narragansett Bay at the Rhode Island-Connecticut state line. Photo/US Army Corps of Engineers.
The Pawcatuck River flows through the east side of the Pawcatuck section of Stonington into Little Narragansett Bay at the Rhode Island-Connecticut state line. Photo/US Army Corps of Engineers.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, is proposing maintenance dredging of the Pawcatuck River, Little Narragansett Bay and Watch Hill Cove Federal Navigation Project (FNP) in Westerly, Rhode Island, and Stonington, Connecticut. The state of Rhode Island is the local sponsor for this proposed work.

The authorized Federal navigation project provides for a 10’ deep Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) channel, 100’ wide from Stonington Point through Little Narragansett Bay to Avondale, a length of about 3 miles, to the lower wharves in Westerly, a length of about 4 miles, and then 40’ wide between lower and upper wharves of Westerly to 7’ deep; a 10’ deep channel, 100’ wide, from the mouth of the river into Watch Hill Cove; a 16-acre anchorage basin in the Cove, 10’ deep; and a 200’ long riprap jetty near the southwest corner of the basin.

The proposed work involves maintenance dredging of approximately 60,000 cubic yards of sandy material from approximately 8-acres within the 10’ deep MLLW by 100’ wide entrance channel extending approximately 3 miles from Stonington Point, into Little Narragansett Bay to an area west of Wequetequock Cove.

Dredging will be performed by a pipeline cutterhead dredge, and the dredged sand will be pumped onto Sandy Point Island as a beneficial use to mitigate for adverse impacts to piping plover habitat caused by the dredging. Also, vegetation on the new tip of the island will be removed to provide premium nesting habitat for piping plovers. Work will take place over a 4-month period in the year in which approvals are obtained. Funding for this effort was in included in the “Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013.”

Dredging was last performed in 1996-1997 when approximately 47,000 cubic yards of material was dredged and placed on Sandy Point. An Environmental Assessment for this proposed work is being prepared and will be available for review.