St. Mary’s College of Maryland 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 full project, totaling $630,000, was formally approved as part of the U. S. Senate veto override of the federal Water Bill on Thursday.   The project will protect and restore the shoreline to where it was in the early 1990s. The St. Mary’s River restoration is part of the $20 million approved in the Water Bill for the Chesapeake Bay.

 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 sand bags to halt long-term erosion until the main project can be designed and constructed. 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. The entire shoreline re-stabilization project is expected to take two years to complete.

 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. 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 will begin the installation of 200 linear feet of sand bags the week of Nov. 12. 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.