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CT river cove may get dredge funding

The town of Old Saybrook, Conn., recently received some good news from U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman

The town of Old Saybrook, Conn., recently received some good news from U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, who says he’s hopeful that a request for $3 million to dredge the silted-in North Cove will be approved.

In 2003 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed to dredge about 250,000 cubic yards of predominantly silt/clay material from the 11-foot-deep entrance channel, 11-foot-deep outer anchorage and 6-foot-deep inner anchorage. The cove has been silting so badly over the past decade, a news report says, that a number of boats, including those owned by mooring holders, cannot get into the cove.

North Cove is home to the North Cove Yacht Club as well as town water access facilities including a dock, boat ramp and landing. Maintenance dredging has not been performed there since 1992 when more than 150,000 cubic yards of silt material were removed from the channel and anchorage areas.

“There’s a definite problem in North Cove,” says Frank Vinciuerra, commodore of the North Cove Yacht Club. “We have more sailboats than powerboats here, and the deep-keeled boats have problems getting in and out. If the cove isn’t dredged and keeps getting siltier and siltier, what happens to our boats then?”

U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, R-2nd District, had previously secured $1.5 million for the project but town officials apparently heard that only half that amount is available now, the news report says. All the permits for the project have been granted and, pending the funds, the project is on the Army Corps of Engineers’ priority list.

Silting is also a problem in South Cove, located between Saybrook Point and the borough of Fenwick. Steve Luckett, the town’s water pollution control authority coordinator, has said that at the rate in which the cove is filling in it will soon become a swamp and eventually turn into a meadow. At this time, it’s unclear if the Army Corps of Engineers will go ahead with dredging South Cove.

Mike Pace, Old Saybrook’s first selectman, has said that dredging North Cove isn’t a permanent solution to the problem. According to the news report, Pace says the town is considering a number of long-term options as well as purchasing its own dredging machinery.