Report of the

Natural Resources/

Harbormaster Department 1987


As Harwich continues to grow the impact of our citizens and visitors continues to have a direct and indirect influence on the environmental quality of our Town. This effect was dramatically shown for the first time by the shellfish closures during July and August. These closures were ordered by the Department of Environmental Quality Engineering after results from their testing showed poor water quality in the harbors. This is the first time that Wychmere harbor has ever been closed. It should concern all citizens of Harwich because Health closures are a direct indicator of the quality of our environment. Further, this quality seems to be headed irreversibly in one direction - down hill - unless we are all willing to take measures and to steer governmental controls at all levels to adjust. Consequently, shellfish permit sales were far off from previous years because of this scare and are reported as follows:


                        413      Resident Family Permits                ($5)         $2,065.00

                          13      Non-Resident Fain. Permits        ($25)              325.00

                        151      Senior Citizen Permits                   ($1)              151.00

                          35      One-Day Family Non-Resident     ($5)             175.00

                          15      Commercial Permits                     ($25)             375.00


                        627      Permits Sold                                                $3,091.00


Water quality is the result of many factors, not all of them bordering on the waterfront. Most of us would be surprised to know that all of the street storm sewers in Harwichport drain directly into the north west corner of Wychrnere harbor or into the marsh at the head of Allen harbor. The discharge of any substance on our main road eventually finds its way to the harbor. Waterfront zoning has not been virgorous enough, allowing even new housing to continue to be constructed within the area of the Wetlands Protection Act using the Title V septic regulations (a system that sanitary engineers freely admit is not adequate enough in the shore zone). Other influencing factors are: the growing sizes of the vessels using our harbors; the discharge of even "treated" marine septic waste by owners; continued growth of marinas and club dockage; the total lack of any marine waste pumpout facilities; the loss of shellfish habitat from the growth of private piers over shellfish beds; cumulative effects of small quantity discharges of petroleum from fueling operations and tank expansions (tank overflows still vent overboard).


It could be argued that our environmental quality is a product of our prosperity. Residents of Harwich must continue to recognize what is wrong with overgrowth and be willing to serve on our Towns various committees and commissions to attempt to steer growth and mitigate the negative. This is all important as we move into our new government under the Harwich Charter.


As predicted last year, Pleasant Bay was accepted into a new environmental protection program, the ACEC (Area of Critical Environmental Concern) by Secretary of Environmental Affairs James S. Hoyte. This program requires that the highest environmental standards be exercised by all permitting agencies over projects in this area. The geographic district of the ACEC extends setbacks to beyond 100 feet of the water, including all tributaries to the Bay.


The West Dock at Saquatucket Marina was replaced in time for the boating season. All officials of the Town have taken exception to the quality and size of the decking material used on this part of the project. The selectmen voted to withhold payment to the contractor, Linberg Marine of Fairhaven, until this issue can be resolved. This resulted in the contractor filing suit against the Town and its Architect, Lee Pare Associates of Pawtucket, RI. In all this confusion, specifications and final plans from Lee Pare for bidding the East Dock replacement have not been received by the Town to date. We are desperately hoping that the east dock project will be underway by the end of February to insure completion of the east dock before the heavy boating season.


As we move into 1988, it is planned that the fuel tank system will be replaced at the marina pending a positive survey of the bulkheading. Other projects include: upgrading of the marina Control Building; resurfacing of the parking lot; replacement of the bubbler system; installation of a marine sewerage pump-out facility; regrading of the fuel dock peninsula and surfacing. All these projects mentioned must be pushed along to insure continued eligibility for reimbursement of expenditures under the Coastal Facilities Improvement Program. The cFlP proposal was submitted to CZM and properly funded by the Town's positive action on article 51 at Town Meeting.


Dredging plans for Allen Harbor are nearing completion as Division of Waterways personnel assure us that dredging will take place before the spring. Permit applications have been completed and submitted for the dredging of Andrews River Channel. The Federal project will take 5,000 cubic yards of material from the Saquatucket outer channel. Our application to the Rivers and Harbor Program for doing the Wychmere channel is still active. We are hopeful that this will be approved next year. Round cove dredging approvals will fall under the new ACEC program in spite of our protest to Coastal Zone Management program. This means extra red-tape in dredging applications there. Also critical to both the Wychrnere harbor and Round Cove Projects is the positive support of voters at Town Meeting on articles to fund these projects in 1988.


The fishing industry at Harwichport had a mild rebound this year as many of the fishing vessels have geared over from gilinet gear back to semi-automated long-line fishing. This has improved the general quality of the fish and coupled with average higher fish prices to the fisherman there was a general windfall felt by most. There seems to be a general trend of fishing vessels moving to smaller size boat in the 30'.35' class with faster speed to beat the weather. The breach breakthrough at North Beach has not substantially affected the number of offloading permits sold to commercial boats in 1987 unlike we expected.


1987 was a great summer weatherwise. Harbor income reflects this trend and is reported on a fiscal year basis.


                                    Saquatucket Seasonal               $173,810.91

                                    Saquatucket Visitors                     51,514.15

                                    Wychmere Town Pier                   12,299.25

                                    Allen Harbor Slips                         8,828.46

                                    Mooring Permits                            6,632.00

                                    Commercial Offload Permits          1,242.50

                                    Ramp User Fees                            2,428.00

                                    Ice Receipts                                  1,942.00

                                    Waiting Ust Fee                             4,215.00

                                    Commissions                                 3,734.47

                                    Refunds                                           (183.51)



The fiscal year Waterways budget for the same period $117,783.00.


Every resident's commitment to overseeing the waterfront is as important to the character of the Town as any zoning measure that we may take inland. The Waterways Commission is looking forward to beginning a comprehensive harbor management plan which will squarely clarify issues in the harbor front area. As Harbormaster, I would welcome positive input from all to this plan.


Thomas E. Leach, Harbormaster


Report of the

Waterways Commission 1987


The Waterways Committee was changed to the Waterways Commission by adoption of the Town Charter. Our duties remain the same as an advisory group to the Board of Selectmen.


Our Harbor activities and the usage of our Navigable Waterways have reached a stage that requires a Harbor Management Plan. The Waterways Commission is developing a Program for presentation to the Board of Selectmen.

A Mooring Permit procedure has been developed and, if acceptable to the Town, will either be a Regulation or a By-Law.


There is urgent need for a Dock/Pier Regulation or By-Law. Inasmuch as we do not have either the Regulation or By-Law, the State has issued Permits without regard to the Town's best interests. Unfortunately, such action can often result in litigation. A procedure has been worked out and, if acceptable, will become either a Regulation or a By-Law.


The Commission has compiled an inventory of the Town's Waterways and Harbors assets.

The Inventory, the Mooring Permit Procuedure and a Dockage/Pier Regulation or By-Law can become important sections of the Harbor Management Plan. it may be necessary to set up a special Committee to work out a Harbor Management Plan.


Joseph A. Goodhue, Chairman                         David Wardwell
David Van Gelder, Vice Chairman                    Alex Thomson 
Jennifer Learned, Secretary                               Lawrence Coffin            Nathaniel Sperber