Massive Beach Reconstruction To Begin In Early September

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The State Department of Environmental Conservation and several federal agencies have given their stamp of approval to plans for a massive rebuilding of beaches in eastern Southampton Town.

The project will mobilize as soon as the summer crowds are gone the week after Labor Day.

The DEC and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which coordinated approvals from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service and other federal agencies, gave the project the go-ahead to begin as early as September 1, as long as special measures are taken to protect against harming endangered sea turtles and sturgeon that migrate through the area in the early fall.

The consultants planning the project, Aram Terchunian of the Westhampton Beach environmental firm First Coastal and Tim Cana of the North Carolina-based company Coastal Science & Engineering, which is overseeing the work, said that bidding for the project, which was opened by Southampton Town last week, will put the start date for the work into the first week of September. The project is expected to take three to four months to complete if the autumn weather cooperates.

The September start is expected to reduce the cost of the work, because more dredges will be available, since most such projects around the country are restricted by environmental regulations from ocean dredging until later in the fall. In the Northeast, protections for sea turtles and sturgeons typically prohibit large-scale dredging work until after November 15, but the restriction can be lifted if dredges are fitted with protective devices and follow strict operating protocols to protect against unintended harm to marine life. Mr. Terchunian said the dredges will be fitted with a turtle-exclusion device, similar to a cow catcher on a train locomotive, and will be required to be in contact with the bottom whenever they are operating to avoid sucking in marine species.

“Interaction with sea turtles is exceedingly rare,” Mr. Terchunian said. He noted that work on the rebuilding of beaches in West Hampton Dunes in the 1990s also was done within typically restricted dates by taking similar measures to ensure the work did not interfere with wildlife.

The project plans call for approximately 2.5 million tons of sand to be sucked from natural stockpiles a mile offshore and pumped ashore along a six-mile stretch of beach between Flying Point in Water Mill and the Southampton Town boundary with East Hampton.

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