ST. MARY'S CITY, Md. (November 9, 2007) - St. Mary's College of Maryland (SMCM) will begin shoreline stabilization on a section of shoreline along the St. Mary's River. This work is the first step of a plan approved by the Army Corps of Engineers to halt erosion that has been occurring at an accelerated rate during the last 20 years. The project will protect and restore the shoreline to where it was in the early 1990s.
The full project, totaling $630,000, was formally approved as part of the U.S. Senate veto override of the federal Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) on Thursday. The St. Mary's River restoration is part of the $20 million approved in the bill for the Chesapeake Bay.
The work will begin next Monday. The entire shoreline re-stabilization project is expected to take two years to complete.
Over the past few decades, over 20 feet of land has been lost to beach erosion on this section of the College waterfront caused by wave action - primarily during storms. For the past six years, college, state and federal officials have been developing a comprehensive plan for restoration of the shoreline. "Shoreline stabilization has been a parallel part of the River Center project for many years," said Torre Meringolo, vice president of development for the College.
The plan calls for an initial placement of 200 linear feet of sand bags to halt long-term erosion until the main project can be designed and constructed. The College requested permission to install sand bags as a temporary protective measure and will remove them in the next 18 to 24 months when the long-term stabilization project has been completed.
When complete, approximately 10 to 12 feet of the over 20 feet lost will be reclaimed. Shoreline protection will be provided by new bulkheads and a pier that is similar to the existing College pier. The new pier contains vertical battens to serve as a breakwater and will reduce the wave action that causes shore erosion. The original pier will remain.
When completed, the River Center project will reduce storm water runoff by more than 30% and improve overall water quality of the watershed. The integrated storm water management system allows rain water to infiltrate the soil instead of flowing directly into the river.
The College continues to work with the Maryland Department of the Environment, Maryland Department of Agriculture's Office of Resource Conservation, and the Maryland Critical Area Commissions on improving the quality of the St. Mary's River as part of the River Center's mission of environmental stewardship, say college officials.
SMCM's Rowing Center, which includes the River Center project, has come under heavy criticism since August due to the location of two new, privately-funded buildings which citizens say ruin the public view of the river and impact the historic environment of Maryland's first capital. The first building, a boathouse, was recently completed. The second, larger building, the River Center, is now under construction.
Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who is southern Maryland's U.S. Representative, earmarked the funds for the shoreline stabilization project in the federal water bill. Hoyer also serves as a trustee for the college.
A spokesman for Hoyer said that he has not developed a position on the River Center controversy or the subsequent actions by citizens and State Senator Roy Dyson (D-29) to give the county official say in future construction projects and to remove SMCM's autonomy by bringing it under the Maryland University System.
Senate Authorizes Bay Projects, Overturns Bush's Veto, Nov. 8, 2007
SMCM Boathouse Issue Continues to Heat Up, Arson Threat Considered Real, Oct. 12, 2007
Delegates Oppose Change In St. Marys College Oversight, Nov. 5, 2007