SCSU students working to stop erosion at Hammonasset

Environment

As you’re plotting out your summer beach trips to Hammonasset, some Southern Connecticut State University students have been spending the last year plotting out the topography of the beach.

They say their work is vital to make sure Hammonasset doesn’t get washed out to sea.

That’s David Bakies holding the prism reflector.

“I grew up in Connecticut. So, coming to the beach is..this was my place of zen,” said SCSU student, David Bakies.

Now, it’s his place of work too.  This three person team from Southern Connecticut State University is tracking erosion. 

David Bakies holds the prism reflector and Mercaldi works the total station. 

“It kinda sends a laser out. It bounces off the prism reflector, sends it back and it gives us 3 dimensional coordinates,” said SCSU junior, Brooke Mercaldi.

Then, they create a graph like this one.

“It shows us how the beaches are changing over time,” said Mercaldi.

“They predicted by 2050, we’ll have 20 cm of sea level rise. So, looking at sea level rise and waves eroding the beach. We do need to restore the beach if we don’t want to lose it,” said SCSU junior, Lauren Brideau.

There’s a lot of reasons for that. Hammonasset beach is the most used state park in Connecticut and bringing in sand from the Housatonic River two years ago cost the state $9 mil.  So this team is collecting data.

“And then designing a more sustainable beach alternative to restoring the beach,” said Brideau.

Mercaldi, “We just hope that we can help educate people on the reality of Connecticut’s shoreline.”

If they succeed at that, it will make the long stretches in some really cold water worth it.

Bakies said, “We’ve been out here a couple times on some pretty cold days throughout the winter and their attitudes alone just made it awesome.”

They plan on doing another one of these beach survey come August. Then they deliver their findings and a plan to state environmental officials. 

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