Coastal Zone LawDEM Announces Informational Meeting Discussing Coastal Resiliency at Quonochontaug Breachway

November 15, 20210

PROVIDENCE — The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announces that the public is invited to participate in an information session on Thursday, Nov. 18, at 6 p.m. regarding coastal resiliency at Quonochontaug Breachway. GZA GeoEnvironmental Inc. was recently contracted to design and present coastal resiliency strategies for the popular boating and fishing access site in Charlestown. A grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Coastal Resiliency Fund is providing funding for this work, along with state funds from saltwater fishing license receipts.

This information session will be held electronically on Zoom. Anyone interested in joining may access the meeting by clicking on this Zoom link and using Meeting ID 996 6013 8378, or by dialing in by telephone at 646-876-9923. To submit written feedback in a 10-day period after the meeting, please e-mail

Commonly referred to as “Quonnie”, this coastal lagoon is one of 10 in the South County region of Rhode Island and serves as the surrounding community’s first line of defense against coastal storms and flooding. At over 700 acres, Quonnie Pond is Rhode Island’s deepest and most saline salt pond. It has more than 80 acres of salt marsh, which hosts vital fish and bird populations. Quonnie’s most common fish species include striped bass, black seabass, tautog, scup, summer flounder, and bluefish. Currently, the access road and eastern breachway shoreline are visibly eroding due to sea level rise, storm surge impacts, and unabated stormwater runoff. There are, however, opportunities to improve coastal resiliency to sea level rise and address land retreat in this area with ecologically engineered approaches that provide both stability and improvements to wildlife habitat.

According to the University of Rhode Island (URI), 75 percent of commercial fish species depend on estuaries for their primary habitat, spawning grounds, and nursery areas. RI commercial fishermen landed 48 million pounds of seafood with a value close to $66 million in 2019 and the seafood and fisheries industry supports 4,300 jobs and provides nearly $420 million in economic impact, according to a 2016 URI study.

After an introduction to the project during the Nov. 18 meeting, GZA will describe their methods of data gathering and modeling, and then present key aspects of potential resiliency solutions. Project partners that have participated in the preliminary stages of the project will also be present for this session to provide feedback. These partners include the Town of Charlestown and the Coastal Pond Management Commission, Coastal Resources Management Council, Save The Bay, Salt Ponds Coalition, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and The Nature Conservancy. Following the information session, the engineering firm will continue to develop and draft resiliency strategies to help prepare Quonnie for the impacts of climate change, including sea level rise and increasingly intense storms.

For more information about DEM divisions and programs, visit or follow them on Facebook, Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM), or Instagram (@rhodeisland.dem) for timely updates.

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