Annisquam River dredging 2020: closeup views from the boats and across to A. Piatt Andrew bridge #GloucesterMA

Here are some views across Annisquam River to A. Piatt Andrew bridge to show relative scale and position of the Annisquam River Dredging operation in February 2020. The Annisquam River dredging project began back in October 2019 and will continue into next year, however it’s not continuous. It’s overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The first dredging sections began in October 2019 (north of the 128 bridge, by Lobster Cove and Thurston Point), and will finish up next Friday (February 28, 2020), following two extensions. Dredging will resume sometime in the fall, likely October 2020.  They’re moving in the direction of the Cut right now. The operations run 24 hours a day with two 12 hour shifts. There are lots of local hires manning the rigs. Cessation by Friday is definite. “There won’t be a third extension because of the flounder spawning season,” says Paul Vitale, captaining one of the push boats for Patriot Marine, a Coastline Consulting sub-contractor.

The equipment you might see before they begin disappearing by the end of this week  are the following:

  • Three barge dredges operating excavators; one is a self loader designed to go in spots where there’s not enough space (There’s still a chunk to do between the train bridge and the cut bridge. The self loader will be doing that.)
  • Three dump scows (also barges) where they put the mud that they load into and cart away to very specific dump sites in Ipswich Bay (they have 5 or 6 compartments and doors that open up on the bottom like coal cars)
  • Roy Boys and Nancy Anne, two tug boats that do the dump runs primarily to Ipswich Bay, carting the scows back and forth
  • Three push boats – two manuevering with each dredge plus one (to help move or ready if there’s a breakdown)

When the project is completed, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will remeasure and update charts. Buoys will be in new spots. But that’s still a long way off.  Fun facts: the scooped sediment was sandier by Thurston Point and muddier at the bend where they’re situated now. There are sensors and computers linked up on barges and scows for monitoring the dump runs, and future research and tracking. The grants obtained for this massive dig were written long before the March trio of storms struck Good Harbor Beach and Long Beach.

 

Closeup views from the barges and vessels courtesy photos below:

 

Mayor Romeo Theken shared the City of Gloucester dredging announcement here November 8, 2019.

About the dredging:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District is proposing to perform maintenance dredging of the Annisquam River Federal navigation project (FNP) in Gloucester, Massachusetts. The city of Gloucester is the local sponsor and requested this dredging.

The proposed work involves maintenance dredging of portions of the 8-foot-deep Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) channel and anchorage, plus authorized overdepth dredging in the Annisquam River FNP. 

“Natural shoaling processes have reduced available depths to as little as 1.0 foot in portions of the 8-foot MLLW channel and anchorage making navigation hazardous or impossible at lower stages of the tide,” said Project Manager Erika Mark, of the Corps’ New England District, Programs/Project Management Division in Concord, Mass. “Maintenance dredging of approximately 140,000 cubic yards of sand and some gravel from approximately 20 acres of the authorized project area will restore the FNP to authorized dimensions.”

A private contractor, under contract to the government, will use a mechanical dredge and scows to remove the material and then transport it for placement at the Ipswich Bay Nearshore Disposal Site (IBNDS) and the Gloucester Historic Disposal Site (GHDS). Approximately 132,500 cubic yards of sandy material will be placed at the IBNDS and the remaining 7,500 cubic years of sand and gravel material will go to the GHDS. Construction is expected to take between 3-4 months between Oct. 1, 2019 and March 15, 2020.

Proposed work is being coordinated with: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; National Marine Fisheries Service; Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management; Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection; Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries; Massachusetts Historical Commission; Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources; Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe; Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah); and city of Gloucester harbormaster. An Environmental Assessment is being prepared.

The public notice, with more detailed information, is available for review on the Corps website at http://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/Navigation/Public-Notices/.

1979 time capsule – E. Raymond Abbott, former Cape Pond Ice owner and Gloucester philanthropist, on the history of Day’s pond, its waterlilies and a Rockport watershed

Next time you’re heading in the direction of Wolf Hill, Good Harbor Beach or Rockport thank E. Raymond Abbott when you pass Day’s Pond, a historic man made pond in Gloucester about 1 acre in size. In 1978 Abbott wrote about his family’s association with the pond:

stone wall repaired 2018 Day's Pond Gloucester MA_20190425_©c ryan (2)
2018 new engineered wall, railing (sidewalk pending) – read more about Gloucester DPW work here

“On reading a recent article in the Gloucester Daily Times (July 1979) which made reference to the ‘so-called’ upper Day’s Pond off Eastern Avenue it occurred to me that the people of Gloucester might be interested in a brief history of the pond.

Years ago there were two Day brothers who owned a large tract of land which extended from the beaches and marshes all the way up to the old Rockport Road. This land, including the upper Day’s Pond, was later sold to a lawyer named Webster who lived in and owned a hotel on Pleasant Street. Later on the Webster property which also included land around Cape Pond in Rockport, came up for sale at a public auction. My father, James Abbott, bought it in June of 1905 and went into business which was later known as the Cape Pond Ice Company. In 1922, my father retired and I took over the ice business. 

I will always remember a young girl, Harriet Wonson, who lived just above the upper Day’s Pond, coming to me asking if she could beautify the pond by planting water lilies in and around it. Of course, I gave my consent.

In 1943, I decided to sell the Cape Pond Ice Company. However, before doing so, I gave the upper Day’s Pond to the city of Gloucester so that the children always have a place to skate in the winter, in the summertime provide a pond for fishing, as well as a beautiful subject for our local artists to paint. It was during this same period that I was able to acquire most of the land around Cape Pond and later gave my interest to the town of Rockport to be used as a water shed. 

It is my sincere hope and desire that the upper Day’s Pond will continue to provide as much enjoyment for the children of the future as it has in the past.

E. Raymond Abbott, Gloucester Daily Times Letter to the Editor, July 16, 1979

Twenty years later, Gloucester dredged Day’s Pond “as part of a watershed management plan to stabilize the pond’s ecosystem.” Massachusetts Department of Environmental Mangement awarded $2500 for the project in 1998. Marilyn Myett wrote a persuasive My View column about the pond’s vital impact in the neighborhood.

Cape Pond Ice was the subject of Mr. Goulart scavenger history challenge for 9th grade GHS students see results & historic photos here

Long Beach shifting sands and seawall: Rockport DPW targets nature and infrastructure

The other Singing Beach

As with Manchester Singing and other North Shore beaches, the white or “dry”  sand of Long Beach sings a musical sound as you scuff ahead. Lately though it’s whistling a shorter tune because there’s an astonishing loss of the dry grains.

Over the last 10 years,  so much sand has been washed away from Long Beach most every high tide hits the seawall. Boogie boarders need to truncate their wave rides else risk landing on the rip-rap.  It’s become a competitive sport to lay claim to some beach chair and towel real estate if you want a dry seat. On the plus side, low tide is great for beach soccer and tennis, long walks and runs. Bocce ball has replaced can jam and spikeball as the beach games of summer 2017.

Seasoned locals recall having to ‘trudge  a mile’ across dry sand before hitting wet sand and water. In my research I’ve seen historic visuals that support their claims.

Vista: Entrance from the Gloucester side of Long Beach

Historic photos and contemporary images –from 10 years ago– show a stretch of white sand like this one looking out from the Gloucester side of Long Beach to the Rockport side.

Long Beach

photocard showing the pedestrian walkway prior to the concrete boardwalk. Historic prints from ©Fredrik D. Bodin (1950-2015) show the damage after storm, 1931. See his GMG post and rodeo (ca. 1950)

fred bodin long beach after the storm

After the Storm, Long Beach, 1931   Alice M. Curtis/©Fredrik D. Bodin (1950-2015) “Printed from the original 5×7 inch film negative in my darkroom. Image #88657-134 (Long Beach looking toward Rockport)”

Fredrik D. Bodin Long Beach

Vista: Facing the Gloucester side of Long Beach

This next vintage postcard flips the view: facing the Gloucester side of Long Beach –looking back to glacial rocks we can match out today, a tide line that shows wet and dry sands, and the monumental Edgecliffe Hotel which welcomed thousands of summer visitors thanks to a hopping casino. The white sand evident in front of  the Edgecliffe bath houses (what is now Cape Ann Motor Inn) has plummeted since a 2012 February storm and vanished it seems, perhaps temporarily, perhaps not. It’s most evident where several feet of sand was cleaved off from the approach to the boardwalk.

EdgeCliffe Hotel and surf Long Beach Gloucester Mass postcard

 

Seasons of sand

I find the annual sand migration on Long Beach a fascinating natural mystery. It’s dramatic every year. Here are photos from this last year: fall (late Sept 2016), winter (December-  sand covers rip-rap), spring (April -after winter storms with alarming loss), and summer (today)

FALL

September 2016

 

WINTER

december 2016

 

SPRING April rip-rap uncovered, exposed. Climbing to the boardwalk is an exciting challenge for two boys I know (when the sand is filled in like the December photo it’s a short drop)

April Long Beach

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SUMMER July 14 sand is coming back though all boulders are not entirely submerged

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Storms (namely February) strip the silky soft top sand away and expose the boulders strengthening the seawall. It’s easy to feel alarmed that the beach is disappearing. By summer, the sand fills back, though not always in the same spot or same quantity. Some rip-rap expanses remain exposed. Most is re-buried beneath feet of returning sand. New summer landmarks are revealed. One year it was a ribbon of nuisance pebbles the entire length of beach. The past two years we’ve loved “the August Shelf”. (Will it come again?)

This year there’s a wishbone river.

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“Apparently you do bring sand to the beach, according to the selectmen appointed committee ascribed with repairing the Long Beach seawall, which could cost up to $25 million.” 

In case you missed the Gloucester Daily Times article “Rockport Looks to Fix Long Beach Sea Wall” by Mary Markos, I’ve added the link here. They hope to finish by 2025. I look forward to learning more and reading about it. If extra sand is brought back will high tide continue to hit the seawall? (In the past it could hit the wall or blast over in storms, but dry sand remained lining the wall.) Will the new wall occupy the same general footprint? Will it be higher? Thicker?

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