, Newburyport, MA


November 23, 2012

Lack of jetty maintenance to blame for PI erosion

To the editor:

The banners that wave in front of Bennet Hill are sending a strong message; you just have to be informed enough to understand it. The homeowners on Plum Island are asking government agencies for permission to save their homes at their own expense and not at the expense of the taxpayer. They are being denied permits to scrape sand, citing a skeptical theory of a negative environmental impact.

It is my belief that Coastal Zone Management and the Department of Environmental Protection thrive on the publicity of a home dropping into the ocean because it bolsters their theory that global warming and sea level rise are to blame for the beach home’s demise. The sound bite on the news bolsters the environmental lobby when it comes to funding the salaries and further research for these government agencies.

The real reason these homes are falling into the sea is because the Army Corps of Engineers did not maintain the Merrimack River jetties. But those complicated details will be lost when NECN shows up to do a 30-second sound bite.

Mother Nature, rising sea level or global warming is not causing primary dune erosion on Plum Island. Human interference of the natural flow of down-drift sand from north to south is being interrupted by a manmade structure (the south jetty) that is now in disrepair. To repair the damage to the coast caused by human interference, we need manmade solutions for the long term and the short term.

The Army Corps’ long-term solutions of repairing and reconfiguring the south jetty and depositing dredged sand on Plum Island will significantly improve the health of our coast; however, it will never cure it. That is why we need to form a permanent short-term solution plan that will allow restoration of the primary dune before an emergency situation occurs. This plan must have the ability to be activated within 24 hours of acute primary dune erosion. Beach scraping should be an important part of the Emergency Dune Restoration Plan.

Environmental government agencies are obstructing Americans from saving their homes, homes that are in danger because the government neglected to maintain the Merrimack River jetties. The banners that wave on Bennet Hill are a message of who is at fault for the coastal erosion and the impending disaster.

Cheryl Comeau


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