Back to the drawing board – Rushy Marsh Plugged

The new cut on Oregon Beach to refresh the stagnant waters of Rushy Pond by opening a sluiceway to the sea has been deliberately plugged with boulders and then again with some finality by a wad of sand and codium blown in on Saturday’s easterly storm. A backhoe is still parked there at the scene awaiting further instructions, but since I haven’t seen anything in the local press I’m assuming some authority — local or state — has decided to go back to the drawing board either out of concern or complaint over how the original engineering performed.

According to local scuttlebutt the new cut was supposed to flow at three miles per hour but instead was ripping out at 7 mph and causing some beach transformation as a result. So initial optimism that the pond would return to some pristine saltwater pond state has been dashed until further notice.

One comment on this blog lamented the impact of the project, tying it to my past post about the negative effect of rock groins/jetties on natural beach sedimentation dynamics. Another impact, reported second-hand by my wife, is the apparent mass fleeing of the area by the resident population of painted box turtles, none of whom like the change in salinity and have headed for the woods in search of decent habitation. My daughter said she saw a dead baby turtle crushed on the road while running past Wesson’s yesterday.

(and in further Cotuit wildlife weirdness, a dead deer washed up on the beach by Lloyd’s, probably drowned by exhaustion trying to paddle across Nantucket Sound at deer have been known to do).

So stand by. I would have hoped they’d let the thing drain until it found some equilibrium, but more educated minds are in charge.

The comment says:

“There is an ugly, untold truth about the Rushy Pond Project. With all the knowledge and experience of the detrimental effects jetties and groins cause on beaches, the Town of Cotuit embarked in the construction of yet another stone jetty by Oregon Beach, the former crown jewel of Cotuit beaches.

“In no time the once sandy beach North of the rigid jetty, has eroded leaving a man made retention cliff and a fringe of rocks on its place.

“Furthermore the jetty, which was built over private beach rights without notification or consent, now helps guide a stream of dirty water from the bacteria filled pond and into the ocean.

“The beautiful Oregon beach as we once knew it, is no loger available to be freely enjoyed by walkers, fishing enthusiasts and runners as the eye sore barrier of stones and dirty water is now on the way.

“Sadly due to the tampering with mother nature, the whole area is now much more vulnerable to flooding, than it ever was.
I surely wouldn’t let my loved ones swim into that newly created sewer like beach environment.”

I won’t argue the points, but find it hard to believe this is a surprise to any of the abuttors, many of whom pushed for the project. As for the beach as we once knew it — this is the most changed piece of beach in Cotuit. I remember the old days of the spit and internal lagoon than ran from Wesson’s down past the Bragdons. That’s long gone. The new cut was causing a cliff to develop on the northern shore. I’m surprised the engineers didn’t run two jetties out to cover both sides of the new inlet.  Stay tuned.

Both photos courtesy of Sharon Johanson.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

One thought on “Back to the drawing board – Rushy Marsh Plugged”

  1. Hi David:

    I too have been interested in this developoment. Back in the day we lived down what is now Vineyard road. The spit ran from Popponosset all the way to Wessons, and Rushy Marshy was still a tidal salt pond. My older brothers – no doubt encouraged by your father – used to torment me with stories about creatures that lurked in Rushy Marshy, including a giant octopus that devoured the Wessons’ St Bernard dog and the “pineys” – wood creatures disguised as pine trees during the day but coming out at night to terrify young boys bicycling into or back from town on dark nights with no street lights.

    I think the spit was breached in 1954 or ’55 right in front of our house, and the new (and current) entrance to Popponesset Bay opened up. We left a few years later, concerned about the possibility of erosion issues, but our old house is still there.

    Thanks for providing the historical perspective of “Old” Cotuit.

    Richard White

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