In Massachusetts alone, thousands of acres of coastal marshes and wetlands are impacted by restricted tidal and water flows. These impacts result from failing infrastructure, from old and poorly planned projects, and from changing environmental conditions. The Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) coordinates ecological restoration projects to remedy these matters.
Coastal engineers and scientists from Woods Hole Group have been contracted by DER to provide coastal resource assessment, modeling, engineering, and design services. A key component of our work for DER is the application of unique computer models to improve design of flow structures. Hydraulic simulations help produce designs that keep salt marshes healthy while simultaneously maintaining civil works infrastructure – a testament to Woods Hole Group’s technical expertise enabling sustainable (re)development. These modeling efforts support refined restoration plans and longer term adaptive management, and incorporate uncertainties associated with storm water management and future sea level rise. Here are three case studies from our portfolio:
- Salt marsh restoration in Saugus, MA. Historically, the salt marsh was directly connected to the ocean and the marsh was healthy because a regular influx of salt water flowed unobstructed. When roads were built through the salt marsh and pipes were put in place to regulate the flow, the marsh habitat became degraded. With significant rainfall, there is also danger of upland flooding of homes and infrastructure. We are designing hydraulic structures to regulate the water flow to restore the Ballard Street marsh and minimize upland flooding during storm events. This restoration project will benefit the overall health of the salt marsh and improve aesthetics.
- Mayo Creek Salt Marsh in Wellfleet, MA. Woods Hole Group conducted a feasibility study for the town, examining the possible options for restoring tidal flows to a suffering marsh. We incorporated low-lying properties, septic systems, and private wells in the surrounding area into an effective hydrodynamic modeling effort, resulting in a preferred design alternative.
- Town Creek in Salisbury, MA. In the wake of catastrophic flooding, Woods Hole Group was hired to perform a hydraulic study of the Town Creek wetlands to assess potential restoration solutions. The study considered the capacity of the marsh to drain during flood events, providing the Town with a greater ability to preserve flood storage capacity. The project also provides the means for incremental increases in tidal range over an extended period of time as part of a larger management plan for tidal wetland restoration.
Salt marsh and wetland restoration projects improve habitat for fish and wildlife, while also restoring ecosystems that benefit the quality of life for citizens of the state. Woods Hole Group’s new contract with DER is effective through 2013, with options through 2015.