DEEP, Project:                                                             (Draft wmh 05/16/03)

(Dredging, Ecology Enhancement Process)


Purpose: The purpose of the DEEP Project is to:


1)      Establish an Inner Harbor, Dredging Spoils Disposal Site and Management Plan for the Towns of Barnstable County located on Nantucket Sound in Massachusetts. Outer Harbor dredging of sand would continue to be used for Beach Nourishment within each respective Town.

2)      Encourage the restoration and clean up of Coastal Waters on Nantucket Sound

3)      Protect the off shore areas of Nantucket Sound from Industrial or Commercial pollution by developing a comprehensive “Nantucket Sound Estuary” area.

4)      Improve the ecological health and navigation standards of the Salt Water Estuaries and Harbors of Cape Cod.



Scope of the DEEP Project:


The Cape Cod coastal estuaries are experiencing a rapid ecological decline due to the abundance of organic nutrients. In particular, Nitrogen.  These nutrients act as a fertilizer to aquatic plants.


The results of too much nitrogen in the small contained harbor areas:


            · Water quality is dangerously degraded from a health perspective.

            · Excessive growth of weeds and algae uses up the oxygen in the water.

            · Frequent Fish Kills, Closed Swimming areas and Closed Shellfish Beds

            · Build up of excessive dead, black algae that fill in the harbor bottoms.

            · The smelly, displeasing water adversely affects tourism and property values.

            · Reduction or elimination of Commercial Shell fishing.

· Reduction and potential elimination of Mooring & Dock sites.


Once the Harbor Estuaries are restored to their previous depths to encourage normal tidal flushing and the related nitrogen reduction practices are incorporated in each community; the normal influx of nutrients into these estuaries can be tolerated without dramatic changes or usage.


The scope of this project from the shoreline perspective is to systematically remove the inner harbor black organic spoils and to relocate these spoils to a large off shore site where the organic material can be disbursed and absorbed back into the Ocean ecological system. This process will also help reduce the amount of organic nutrients that is building up near the beaches and causing excessive seaweed growth. In addition to the removal and reduction of the excessive nutrients, there is a requirement to with initiating programs in each community to reduce the future build-up of dead alga spoils and to improve that natural flushing of the inner harbor.


The scope of this project from the Nantucket Sound perspective is to establish a disposal site that can coexist with the proposed “Nantucket Sound Estuaries” and not disrupt the fragile ecological balance in the area. The only material allowed to be deposited, in this area would be the organic material from the inner harbors of the South facing Cape Cod Towns. No Commercial, industrial or Septic Waste Material would be allowed. All use of the area would be under the strict regulations and enforcement of the respective State and Federal agencies. In addition the periods of time that the site could be used would not interfere with annual sea life migrations.


Potential DEEP Project, Coordination Participants and Partners:


Cape Cod Commission

Cape Cod Conservation Commission, from each of the respective Towns

Cape Cod Harbormasters, from each of the respective Towns

Cape Cod Selectmen, from each of the respective Towns

Cape Cod Waterways Commission, from each of the respective Towns

Corps of Engineers of the Unites States

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Agency

Massachusetts Insight Corp.

Massachusetts U.S. & State Senators and U.S. & State Representatives

University of Massachusetts, School of Marine Science & Technology