YARMOUTH — An effort to help fund dredging of the Royal River may be gaining momentum after a congressional committee approved an appropriations request from U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, on Tuesday.

Town Manager Nat Tupper said the last time the river was dredged – nearly 15 years ago – he heard no complaints from marine owners, boaters, or commercial fishermen.

“Everyone understands the necessity and wants it done,” he said. “It is a much-needed project.”

Tupper said the last time the Royal River was dredged it took place in the winter and lasted a few months. Nearly 60,000 cubic yards of sediment and sand was taken to sea, he said.

Now the town is completing its due-diligence and is searching for a land area to dispose of sediment. Tupper said Barney Baker of Baker Design Consultants is leading the research efforts. He said Baker specializes in projects that maintain, improve and encourage access to waterfront and wetland resources.

If there is no site available on land, Tupper said the sediment and sand will be disposed of at sea by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

According to a statement from Pingree’s office, a request for $200,000 was included as part of an Energy and Water appropriations bill that is expected to pass the House later the summer. From there, it will go to the U.S. Senate.

A lot of sediment can build up in 15 years, Tupper said, and if there was enough money, it would be better to dredge the river every seven to nine years.

“There is a significant amount of commercial activities along the river,” Tupper said, noting that boat building, tourism, commercial fisheries and recreation will be positively effected by the dredging.

“It’s not a done deal yet,” he said, “but it’s a step in the right direction.”

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or [email protected]

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