Regional leaders express strong support for the environmental and fiscal importance of the
Herring River Restoration Project
As a result of tidal restriction, Herring River is now listed as
an impaired water that does not comply with Clean Water Act standards.
Herring River Restoration Protects Wellfleet From Financial Burden
- Mark Forest, Yarmouth Selectman; Chair of the Cape Cod Conservation District; former Congressional Chief of Staff and town administrator
Mark Forest, one of Cape Cod's most seasoned public officials, recently responded to comments made about potential financial liability of the Herring River Restoration Project. Mr. Forest stated that there is greater risk in not advancing the project. In a letter to the Cape Cod Times Mr. Forest wrote, "I believe the town and Seashore got it right - there is a greater financial liability in doing nothing". He noted that "Herring River is a degraded water body. The watershed is in trouble. The river is on the federal and state lists of 'impaired waters,' and towns with degraded waters are in violation of the Clean Water Act. The current restoration project has attracted millions in additional state and federal support. Doing nothing simply shifts the financial burden to Wellfleet taxpayers."
Cleaning up Herring River "should be viewed as an investment that will boost a shellfish industry that is the heart and soul of the local economy, creating good jobs and millions in local income," Mr. Forest said. Read his full letter here.
Sesuit and Herring River Restoration Criticism Not Based on Facts
- Andrew Gottlieb, Executive Director of APCC, Mashpee Selectman, former state environmental official
Andrew Gottlieb wrote in the Cape Cod Times that the Sesuit Creek Restoration in Dennis has succeeded in "
restoring tidal flow, reducing invasive vegetation and reopening flow for herring to upstream spawning habitat." Mr. Gottlieb noted that recent comments seeking to characterize the Sesuit project as a failure are "counter to existing facts and reports." Mr. Gottlieb also responded to efforts to apply misinformation about the Sesuit restoration to the Herring River project. "To point to the Sesuit Creek salt marsh restoration and planting as a failure is false, and to suggest this means the Herring River project, with its extensive monitoring and planning for slow and progressive management, will cause harm is unfounded based both on the science of these two projects and the large number of successful tidal restorations completed across the region." Mr. Gottlieb said that giving credence to misleading statements is a "disservice to the entire region." Read Mr. Gottlieb's full article here.
Engineering Reports Cite Poor Condition of
Chequessett Neck Road Tide Gates
New state-of-the-art infrastructure will improve water quality and communty resilience to sea level rise
As many people are aware, the tide gates in the Chequessett Neck Road dike were installed when the dike was rebuilt in the mid-1970's. Two engineering reports previously submitted to the Town of Wellfleet indicate that the tide gates that control tidal flow are in poor condition and nearing the end of their useful life.
A professional engineering inspection conducted by Churchill Engineering in 2011 found "each tide gate assembly as a unit in poor condition."
Similarly, a 2017 Massachusetts Department of Transportation inspection report found that the tide gate for the south barrel, which is the only barrel that allows bi-directional flow, "appears to be inoperable due to a severely corroded crank receptacle..." Both reports are available here.
While the poor condition of the tide gates is a concern, the main issue is that the culverts were expressly designed to block seawater flow and drain the upstream marshlands. The design worked, eliminating hundreds of acres of once-productive tidal marsh, and severely reducing tidal flushing. Lack of tidal flow has led to degraded water quality both above and just seaward of the dike structure. Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries has designated the dike as a point source for bacterial contamination, which has contributed to the closure of downstream shellfish beds.
The Herring River Restoration Project will replace the existing dike and poorly functioning tide gates.
The new tide gates can be adjusted as needed to achieve restoration goals while keeping water levels below elevations that could affect any private structures or public infrastructure. The state of the art infrastructure will allow tidal flow to improve water quality and shellfish habitat and will enhance community resilience to climate change and rising sea levels.