Hallelujah. Last year, Rhode Island voters approved an environmental bond issue, $7 million of which was earmarked for dredging the Woonasquatucket and Providence rivers downtown. The first phase, along the stretch between the Providence Place mall and the new pedestrian bridge, has begun. From the Providence Journal:
The workers will remove about 16,000 cubic yards of material, enough to bring the river bottom down to about 5 feet below low tide. In places, that could mean taking out 4 feet or more of sediment. In others, it could be inches.
That can only be good news for the tour boat captains, kayakers, gondoliers, and the WaterFire wood boat crews. The pump will be running 24/7 until this first part of the project is complete. The Nature Conservancy is managing the project with an eye to protecting the river fauna.
The current round of work is being timed to avoid winter flounder spawning and herring migration.
“They don’t want to interfere with the spring run or the down-running juvenile fish,” said John O’Brien, policy specialist with The Nature Conservancy.
The second phase of the dredging — below the pedestrian bridge — has not yet been scheduled.
According to the ProJo, “Most of the material clogging the river is road sand that was swept into storm drains and flushed into the river.” Then what’s that smell?
The photograph below was taken in 2016. I can’t imagine how the tour boat guide was handling the unloveliness of the view and the eye-watering aroma, but I hope those tourists return once the rehabilitation has been completed . . . and at high tide.
(The ProJo piece has a great slideshow which includes a picture of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party that was held in 2015 on an exposed “island” in the river.)