AUGUSTA — Twenty thousand dollars in funds have been secured to pay for a study of whether an innovative technology known as wave attenuation devices can mitigate the ongoing erosion of Saco Bay as a result of the Camp Ellis Jetty. The devices are hollow with holes that divert the wave energy that causes erosion and promote the flourishing of aquatic wildlife by creating an artificial reef environment.

“I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with the dedicated individuals of SOS Saco Bay and local officials to secure these funds, and it’s my sincere hope that this technology provides ongoing protection for Camp Ellis Beach,” said State Sen. Donna Bailey, D-Saco. “The erosion has been an issue the communities have been dealing with for generations and is among the worst cases in the state. Now more than ever, as we brace for worsening climate change, it’s critical to protect our shoreline and the surrounding areas.”

The erosion at Camp Ellis Beach and in Saco Bay has been caused by the Saco River Jetty that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers originally constructed over a century ago. However, increased erosion levels over the past decade have made the need for action more urgent.

“Our community has been faced with significant shoreline erosion for decades. As our climate becomes more uncertain and we experience more frequent and severe weather events, the need for solutions is greater than ever before,” said Rep. Maggie O’Neil, D-Saco. “This study is an important step to help our community identify and implement solutions. I am grateful to SOS Saco Bay for their great work to protect our shoreline.”

Addressing the erosion of the beach will take a multi-pronged approach and continued coordination between local, state, and federal leaders and agencies. The federal government appropriated $26.9 million for erosion mitigation efforts in 2006, but the funding authorization and approval for a project is still outstanding.

Rep. Lynn Copeland, D-Saco, sponsored a new law in 2021 directing the governor and state to work with the U.S. Army Corps Engineers and the City of Saco to procure authorization for further shoreline protection measures.

“I believe a multi-pronged approach is the best approach to solving the erosion problem in Camp Ellis. Being monocular has not worked, which is why I am happy that the 130th Legislature passed my bill, LD 946, under the gavel,” said Rep. Copeland. “This bill gives us state assistance to more initiatives, such as the Living Shoreline study. We have worked hard for many years to remediate the damage caused by the Camp Ellis Jetty and I believe working with nature rather than against it may well be the best direction to go and will save money in the long run.”

“We would like to extend our thanks and gratitude to Sen. Bailey for her efforts to identify and secure these funds,” said Kevin Roche, President of SOS Saco Bay. “We have high hopes that this study will demonstrate the effectiveness of wave attenuation devices and living shoreline erosion mitigation systems to help us protect not only Saco Bay, but shorelines up and down the Maine coast.”

Funding for this project was identified with the help of the Office of the Attorney General. The results of the study will be provided to the Attorney General to share with other agencies working to mitigate coastal erosion throughout the state, including at Ferry Beach State Park next to Camp Ellis Beach.

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