Barnstable County Addresses Troubled Dredging Program

The Barnstable County municipal dredge program, which services Cape Cod’s 15 towns, is being overhauled in reaction to persistant unreliable service in recent years that has left many waterways in need of dredging before the busy summer boating season. The program’s new high-tech dredge, purchased in 2017, has been plagued by mechanical and computer issues, resulting in many projects running behind schedule.

According to the Cape Cod Times,the program was forecast to generate nearly $1.8 million from 17 dredging projects during fiscal 2019, which ends June 30. However, only 7 of the projects had been completed as of early April.

A dredge crew is currently trying to clear Popponesset Channel in Mashpee, which is used by numerous boaters. Three other critical dredging projects in Falmouth (Eel River, Green Pond, Falmouth Inner Harbor) may not happen until fall, according to the Times.

Hiring outside commercial dredges is a possibility, but all the dredging companies were booked, plus this would cut into the savings the county dredge was supposed to provide.

The county is now looking into purchasing a diesel-powered cutter suction hydraulic dredge and hiring consulting services to “coordinate planning within the department, assist in preparing the dredge schedule and provide oversight and guidance for the county and all 15 towns that the county services in developing a strategy for local and regional comprehensive dredge permitting.”