PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Providence River is being dredged once again.
The dredging is part of a three-phase maintenance project being conducted by The Nature Conservancy and the Coastal Resources Management Council.
The first phase, which included dredging around the basin at Waterplace Park, was completed in the winter of 2019-20.
The second phase, which is happening now, includes dredging from the Crawford Street Bridge to the Point Street Bridge. It’s expected to be completed by January 2023.
Coastal Resources Management Council’s Dan Goulet tells 12 News a cutter head suction dredge is agitating the bottom, sucking sediment up and pushing it down a pipeline.
Sky Drone 12 got a bird’s eye view of the dredging in progress. The sediment is pumped through two miles up pipe, down the Providence River, past the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier and across the harbor to the East Providence waterfront.
John Torgan, director of The Nature Conservancy, said the dredging will benefit the Providence River in a number of ways.
“We’re removing this muck to deepen the channel, making it more navigable for boats,” Torgan explained. “The other thing that it does is take a lot of garbage out of the bottom. It improves circulation, and it makes habitat for fish and other wildlife. It also makes [the river] more usable for all the people who like to come down here and use the water.”
Goulet said between 35,000 and 45,000 cubic yards of sediment is being pumped out of the Providence River.
“There’s plastics, plastic bags, potato chip bags,” he said. “We’re finding clothing, combs, scooters … all kinds of stuff.”
The sediment is being pumped into giant bags where it will be dewatered. The bags will be opened in May and mixed with concrete to help raise this area of the waterfront by five feet.
“It’ll become fill material,” Torgan said. “It will lay down space for the growing offshore wind industry in Rhode Island … It’s really a double benefit.”
The third phase of the project will include creating a sedimentation basin upstream of Providence Place mall.
The basin will catch some of the sediment as it makes it way down the Woonasquatucket River, and ensure that the benefits of the dredging last longer.
The dredging is being paid for with Clean Water and Green Economy bonds approved by Rhode Island voters in 2018 and 2021.