The Coast of Maine Gets Back to Business

By Paul Molyneaux.

Putting the coast of Maine back together will take know-how and patience. After two back-to-back, record-breaking storms in Maine, there may not be any getting back to normal. According to a webinar offered by the Island Institute in Rockland, Maine, normal is over.

The Gulf of Maine has risen 7.5 inches in the last hundred years, and that rate is expected to increase, with a rise of 1.5 feet in the next 26 years. Things are expected to get worse and the public and private owners of the coastal infrastructure that needs rebuilding are getting the message. “We need to overbuild,” says Mark Zaccadelli, Ocean’s Edge Marine Construction owner in Bristol, Maine.

The waves have laid down, the storm surge has receded, and slowly, on the coast of Maine, fishermen and wharf owners are coming to terms with the challenges of rebuilding.

“As I understand it the DEP [Maine Department of Environmental Protection] will let people rebuild piers and shoreside stabilization on the original footprints. And they can raise the piers by four feet,” says Zaccadelli. “Right now, it you rebuild on the original footprint, you can get a permit by rule, which takes two weeks. But if you make changes, like raising the height, it usually requires an NRPA, which can take six months to a year, and you have to work with the DEP and the US Army Corps of Engineers.”

On permitting, Zaccadelli has found the process so time-consuming that he contracts it out to Gartley & Dorsky, an engineering and surveying firm in Camden, Maine.  But the Maine Legislature’s Environmental Committee voted in favor of the fast-track permit by rule process for wharf owners who want to build stronger structures.