November 15, 2018
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Cost of fixing beach erosion skyrockets as Maine city waits for federal action

Wikipedia Commons | BDN
Wikipedia Commons | BDN
The Saco River along Camp Ellis.

It’s an age old question waiting for an answer: When will a project be completed to offset the impact of the Saco Jetty?

The Saco Jetty extends about 7,000 feet into Saco Bay from the Saco River. The jetty was built by the Army Corps of Engineers in the late 1800s to provide a smoother shipping channel in the Saco River. It has been blamed for disrupting the natural flow of sand and causing the coastal erosion, which over the years has destroyed homes and shrunk the beach in the seaside community of Camp Ellis.

City officials have been hoping for years for a solution to the problem. The federal government earmarked $27 million for a mitigation project in 2007, but the funds have never been administered.

Since then, the cost of a project to mitigate erosion caused by the jetty has risen considerably, with the most recent estimate being about $67 million.

After conducting a study, the Army Corps of Engineering has proposed a 750-foot spur off the side of the jetty, replenishing the beach with sand when the project is completed and then providing replenishment four more times over the 50 years after completion.

The city recently hired a Washington, D.C., attorney to review the city’s case and advise it how to move forward, and is waiting for the attorney’s response, said City Administrator Kevin Sutherland at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.

The city, in recent weeks, has received correspondence from officials at the Army Corps of Engineers and is working with Army Corps officials on going through the steps in the review process of the final draft for the proposed project.

Councilors discussed their frustrations on how long the process has taken at Monday night’s workshop and the general consensus was that it will wait to hear from the attorney before deciding how to best approach the situation in the future in order to get the project completed.


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