A new Barnstable County dredge is scheduled to arrive and go into operation by September.
The county commissioners Wednesday awarded a $1.24 million contract to Ellicott Dredges of Baltimore for the dredge.
The new dredge will be more similar to the Cod Fish, a dredge bought by the county more than 20 years ago, than the M/V Sand Shifter, a dredge bought in 2017, said Assistant County Administrator Stephen Tebo. He described the new dredge as a “basic, simple operational dredge.”
Mr. Tebo compared the new dredge and the Cod Fish to the cartoon show “The Flintstones” and the Sand Shifter to “The Jetsons,” emphasizing the different ways in which the dredges operate. The new dredge and the Cod Fish operate with “levers” while the larger Sand Shifter operates with electronic systems, allowing it to handle a lot more work.
Numerous breakdowns of the Sand Shifter caused some of the setbacks to the county’s dredging schedule. In Mashpee in April, the Cod Fish had to be deployed to Popponesset Bay rather than the Sand Shifter, which was originally planned to dredge the bay’s entrance.
The new dredge is expected to help maintain the busy schedule of dredging work taking place on the Cape each year. This year, 14 of the 17 planned dredging projects were completed, pushing three projects into the next fiscal year, Mr. Tebo said.
Projects being pushed into the next fiscal year include one project on the Eel River in Falmouth and two projects in Dennis.
Ellicott Dredges is the same company that supplied the county with the Sand Shifter. Despite holdups with the delivery and functionality of the Shifter in 2017, Mr. Tebo said that the county has no hesitation working with the company and that the two have a good working relationship.
The yearly dredging schedule is subject to time-of-year restrictions, which are in place to minimize the environmental impact of dredging on species such as piping plovers. Dredging operations also can come to a halt in the summer for other reasons. “Nobody wants a dredge on their beach for obvious reasons,” Mr. Tebo said. Dredging in the summer season can also present safety concerns for boaters.
The new dredge will be able to handle 3,000 feet of pipelines, an amount comparable to that which the Cod Fish can handle, but half of the 6,000 feet of pipeline which the Sand Shifter can handle, according to Mr. Tebo.
With two new county dredges purchased in the past three years, the 20-year-old Cod Fish would remain as backup to help keep Cape Cod’s harbors open.