A disposal site for dredged material off the coast of southern Maine and New Hampshire has been secured, just before a dredging project is set to start in Rye this November.
The site will be used for materials from Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The Isles of Shoals North Disposal Site is located in the Gulf of Maine, approximately 12.4 miles east of Portsmouth, 11 miles southeast of Kittery, Maine, and 7 miles northeast of Eastern Island, the closest of the Isles of Shoals. The designation was recorded on Sept. 25 and will open next month, according to a news release.
The site will provide a new, long-term disposal site for federal, state and commercial marine dredging projects in the region. The newly designated site will replace the Cape Arundel site, the only other site for dredge material disposal in the area, which is scheduled to close next year.
Three dredging projects by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in New Hampshire’s Rye Harbor are scheduled to begin Nov. 15. The projects are expected to cost $4 million and continue into March.
Rye Harbor has not been dredged in 30 years and shoaling has caused the harbor to become unworkable. The harbor is estimated to pull $5 million into the local economy during average years.
“This designation allows our federal and state partners and New England marine industries to proceed with projects that are critical to our region’s economic prosperity while reducing impacts on air quality and the marine environment,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator Dennis Deziel. “The new Isles of Shoals North site reduces the likelihood of unsafe navigational conditions and potential adverse impacts to marine ecosystems.”
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, said the disposal site is a critical part of the upcoming dredging project. She helped secure approval and funding for the project.
“The ability to dispose of dredged material at the Isles of Shoals North is preferred over the alternate location, as it will help reduce costs and also ease stress on the fishing grounds,” she said. “Dredging Rye Harbor is significant for our coastal communities, fishing and lobster industries, and the overall safety of those traveling in and out of the harbor.”
In addition to those in Rye, the project will benefit other industries in the region, including shipping, recreational boating-related businesses, marine transportation, commercial and recreational fishing, interstate ferry operations, and U.S. Navy and Coast Guard facilities, according to the news release.
“Continued access to harbors, berths, and mooring areas is vital to ensuring the continued economic health of these industries, and to preserving the ability of the region to import fuels, bulk supplies, and other commodities at competitive prices and to preserve ocean access for the commercial fishing fleet,” the news release reads.
The EPA site will be monitored to make sure it does not cause any significant adverse impacts to human health or the marine environment.