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Coastal Processes Analysis for the South Coast of Chatham, Massachusetts

To update previous efforts associated with the analysis of coastal processes between Mill Creek and Bucks Creek located along Chatham?s south coast, a limited data collection and numerical modeling effort was performed to assess ongoing changes to the area beaches and estuarine systems. The analysis work was primarily focused on the movement of littoral sediments within the Mill Creek to Bucks Creek region. Due to the recent shoaling at the mouth of the Mill Creek/Taylors Pond and Bucks Creek estuarine systems, an understanding of longshore sediment transport processes is required to ensure effective management/stability of the inlet system. Shoaling likely had impacted tidal circulation through both entrances; therefore, an evaluation of these circulation impacts and the associated water quality impacts also was included in the evaluation. The analysis showed that increased shoaling at the Mill Creek entrance has a demonstrable negative impact on both tidal flushing and water quality conditions (total nitrogen concentrations) in Taylors Pond. Overall, the shoaling has created an approximate 10% reduction in tide range and a 4% increase in total nitrogen concentrations within Taylors Pond. Although recent visual observations indicate increased shoaling at the Bucks Creek entrance, the survey performed in May 2007 shows that the inlet throat is actually larger than the existed in 2000. Aerial photographic records support this general trend of inlet widening, where the 2000 photograph exhibits the narrowest channel servicing the Bucks Creek system. Water quality modeling for the Bucks Creek/Cockle Cove Creek system indicate that the wider inlet improves tidal flushing within this system; however, this increased tidal exchange causes a slight increase in nitrogen concentrations in other areas of the estuarine system. A significant reduction in total nitrogen concentration in upper reaches of the Bucks Creek system occured as a result of the widened inlet. This resulted in slightly higher nitrogen concentrations in the lower portions of the estuary, where maximum computed nitrogen level increases are about 0.02 mg/L, based on the improved circulation conditions surveyed in 2007.

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