Sediment Placement Eyed For Erosion Management

Erosion management around the island in the near-term could include a series of dune restoration and sediment placement projects – both onshore and offshore – at critical locations to protect public infrastructure and private homes.

That was among the draft recommendations from the consultant Arcadis that were presented to the town’s Coastal Resilience Advisory Committee yesterday morning.

Arcadis evaluated strategies for areas like Madaket at the Ames Avenue bridge to Smith’s Point, the south shore locations where Nantucket Memorial Airport and the Surfside Wastewater Treatment Facility are situated, along with Tom Nevers, Sconset, Coatue, and the north shore from Jetties to Eel Point. 

Questions regarding how much sand would be required, at what cost, and who would be required to pay, remain unanswered at this early stage in the committee’s evaluation process with Arcadis.

“Nothing we’re proposing here is going to do anything to stop erosion from occurring,” said Trevor Johnson, a planner with Arcadis. “It’s about slowing it down and buying time in those areas where we do see the need for retreat due to sea level rise.”

Select Board member Matt Fee was typically blunt in his assessment of the difficulty the coastal resiliency initiatives face. “No offense, but you have to not be naive,” Fee said to Johnson. “This isn’t a small tweak. There’s been a commodification of Nantucket where a lot of people view their property as a commodity, whether they’re renting it or leasing it. That’s two-thirds of the voters at Town Meeting. Anything that will hurt or slow them down will be difficult to pass, and even people who own their houses are counting on selling them, they don’t want restrictions. We want to do what’s right, as long as it doesn’t cost me – that’s going to be the attitude.”

Other long-term strategies, including retreating from areas at significant risk for erosion or constructing some type of hurricane barrier similar to the one in place in New Bedford, were mentioned but acknowledged as projects that would require far more research, public engagement, and consensus-building. 

Learn more at the Coastal Resilience Advisory Committee’s website.

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