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    Thursday, February 29, 2024

    State legislation could give Alewife Cove Conservancy funding to restore the cove

    An aerial picture of the sediment, viewed entering the channel at bottom left of photo, that came into the Alewife Cove after Super Storm Sandy in 2012. (Courtesy of Alewife Cove Conservancy)

    New London ― Nudged between Waterford and New London, the Alewife Cove serves as a natural border and sanctuary for many of the area’s wildlife.

    Edward Lamoureux, the founder and co-chair of Alewife Cove Conservancy, said as a kid the cove was referred to as “the creek” and it was the spot for fishing, crabbing, tubing and diving. He said it’s still the spot for his grandchildren.

    The cove, however, has not been the same after Super Storm Sandy in 2012 blew dunes from Waterford Beach into the channel and caused a sediment blockage.

    State legislation introduced in January proposes providing a grant to the conservancy to restore and dredge the cove. The House bill is sponsored by state Reps. Christine Conley (D-Groton), Anthony Nolan (D-New London) and Aundre Bumgardner (D-Groton).

    Conley is taking the reins on the cove matter from former state Rep. Joe de La Cruz. She said this is a unique situation, because Waterford holds the permit to dredge the cove meanwhile the channel lies mostly in New London.

    “We’re very pleased with our state representatives, Mayor Michael Passero and Waterford First Selectman Rob Brule for working harmoniously together to restore our natural border,” said Lamoureux.

    He said the bill is the result of years of mobilizing and educational outreach to city and state officials by the conservancy he founded in 2016 to “help protect, preserve, and enhance the cove.”

    Lamoureux said Alewife Cove is the birthplace and nursery for alewife herring, flounder, blueshell crab and striped bass, among other species. He said the migratory species are unlikely to return to channel in its current condition.

    He said the lack of water flow also has caused a problem in the upper basin of the cove where “sapropel,” or rotting organic matter and mostly leaves, have affected the ecology and caused algae that releases a rotten egg smell on hot days.

    Conley said neighbors to the cove are aware of the smell and really the ones taking a lead to do something about it. She said she is just helping at the state level to get sediment out of the cove and help the neighbors out.

    Conley said the challenge to passing this bill is there is not a lot of knowledge on the project as it is a very local issue. She said most folks are not opposed to it, but those that are argue the permit requires certain studies to be done in the cove before it is dredged, costing more money and time.

    She said New London has worked to get other grants as well.

    In her two years as grants coordinator for New London, Adriana Reyes said she submitted a grant application to the Long Island Sound Futures Fund but the city did not receive it. The grant for $500,000 would have supported project planning, analyses, site assessment and conceptual design, and the final design and permitting associated with the restoration of Alewife Cove.

    Reyes said they anticipate applying for the grant again this year.

    j.vazquez@theday.com

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