Coastal/Marine Engineering

Providing Cape Cod property owners with responsible access to our waterways and helping them protect their investments.

Regulatory constraints for installing structures in and around Cape Cod’s waterways are complex-and for good reason. Fishermen, shellfish farmers, tourists, landowners of waterfront property and the surrounding communities all rely on a reliable coastal waterway for a healthy local economy. With our state-of-the-art mapping equipment, creative engineering methods, and a comprehensive understanding of our regulatory landscape, CIE can achieve client objectives while protecting the marine resources we all appreciate and rely on.

Dock and Pier Permitting

Permitting for residential ramps, docks and piers

Beach Dune Restoration

Beach and dune erosion stabilization strategy

Sea Wall Cape Cod

Rebuild/repair of existing seawalls

Marine & Coastal Engineering Services Provided

Native to Cape Cod, CIE staff are local landowners and boat owners with a personal understanding of this issue. Town residents who pay taxes have a right to enjoy their property as long as it does not adversely impact the waterways. By law, you need a certified engineer to certify that a pier or dock is designed to ensure the prevention of damage to wetland resource areas and abutting properties, including erosion and sedimentation.

The MassDEP administers and enforces Chapter 91 licensing. CIE provides a complete set of services to assess, design and permit piers, bulkheads, boardwalks, and floating and seasonal docks for private, commercial, and municipal clients. We can guide you from proposal to permitting, from conceptualization to construction.

See the MassDEP’s Waterways Permitting Guide for details on which type of Chapter 91 authorization your proposed activity or project requires.

For municipalities, dredging activities are used to maintain and ensure safe usage of our waterways for vessels. Coastal landowners often dredge to improve boat access to a private dock or bulkhead. The removal of mud and decomposed organic material from waterways can increase suitable shellfish habitat and promote improved water quality. When dredge areas are carefully selected and the project incorporates a robust shellfish seeding program, the end result can be a substantial net environmental benefit.

CIE works with municipalities and landowners to develop successful dredging strategies that eliminate impacts to our aquatic resources and wildlife. We will guide you through the very complex and lengthy permitting process and ensure that the project is a success. We also work with dredging contractors to conduct pre/post-dredge surveys utilizing our drone survey technology.

Cape Cod’s beaches are eroding at an alarming rate. Rock seawalls and breakwaters built to protect homes are, in some cases, actually stopping beach migration and starving downdrift shorelines of the sediment needed to replenish the shoreline system.

In many cases, development and infrastructure changes to our landscape have interrupted the natural movement of sand on Cape Cod. Rising sea levels and increased severity of wind, storm surge, and flooding intensify the problem.

One method for stabilization and shoreline protection is beach nourishment, which means dredging or taking sand from elsewhere and putting it back on the beach. CIE has a successful track record in the analysis, permitting, and execution of beach nourishment projects.

Cape Cod is beginning to experience the effects of a changing climate. Storms are more frequent, tides are higher and winds more powerful, causing an increase in flooding and storm surge that is altering and eroding our coastal landscape at an unprecedented rate.

Hard vs Soft Solutions
A hard solution is a practice of using physical structures such as breakwaters, bulkheads, and seawalls made of concrete, rock, or steel to protect shorelines from coastal erosion. Hard solutions, however, can increase damage to adjacent property through wave reflection and by altering natural shoreline sediment migration processes. The most common result of the use of hard solutions is for the protection of structures predating 1978 that are in danger of future storm and/or erosion damage. In some cases, hard solutions may be the only viable option for protecting a structure.

The harsh reality is that trying to stop the effects of sea-level rise may be futile and result in loss of capital. CIE evaluates all options with clients, which in some cases may result in the recommendation to relocate.

Soft solutions such as fabrics, beach nourishment, and vegetation plantings are preferred methods for shoreline stabilization. CIE designs and permits soft solutions that mimic nature and use natural vegetation to prevent and/or stabilize erosion. Regulatory agencies encourage and prefer the use of soft solutions in place of hard solutions.

Although soft solutions are now preferred for controlling erosion and damage to land assets from rising sea levels and storm surge, they are not always viable options. When an existing seawall needs to be rebuilt, licensed, or modified, we provide our clients with all redesign/repair and permitting services for pre-existing seawall and bulkhead structures.
Flood Zone design standards are implemented to protect against rising sea levels and increased storm severity and frequency. The first step in any project located within a special flood hazard zone is to evaluate the site and the applicable flood zone regulations.

Proper design within flood zones is vital to maintaining compliance and ensuring the structure is properly built to flood zone design standards. In some cases, the current flood maps have properties incorrectly mapped and we can assist property owners in correcting these situations to ensure compliance and minimize flood insurance requirements.

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