PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A significant dredging project along the Providence River is slated to begin later this week.
The month-long project, spearheaded by the Coastal Resources Management Council, will remove years worth of silt from and sand from the bottom of the river basin.
“The rivers accumulated sediment, almost to the point where it is impossible to navigate at low tide,” Coastal Resources Management Council member Dan Goulet said. “It impedes fish passages, recreation for kayaks and other things that are very challenging at low tide.”
Goulet said preparations for the project are still underway. He said the WaterFire braziers have been removed from the Providence River — including at Waterplace Park — where dredging equipment has already been set up.
“It will agitate the sediment with a little egg beater in the front, and it sucks the sand up and it will push it down the orange pipe that we see,” Goulet said.
The process will start underneath the Providence Place Mall and work back down the river to Crawford Street (near Hemingways Restaurant).
The sand will be pumped 10,500 feet, nearly 2 miles, down the river, under the hurricane barrier and to East Providence where the water will be separated from the sand.
Tim Mooney with The Nature Conservancy said agitating any fish in the river is not a concern this time of year.
“By now all the fish have moved out of the system,” Mooney said. “That’s why all the dredging happens between November and February. It’s a state-sanctioned window for doing this kind of work.”
The dredging will continue 24 hours a day, seven days a week and should be completed by Christmas.
The project is estimated to cost $5 million, which will be paid for by the Clean Water and Green Economy Bond, passed by voters in November 2018.
“If we do a better job of reducing the amount of sand coming in the river, we should not have to be back here for another 20-25 years,” Mooney said.