Pawcatuck Coastal Storm Risk Management

November 2023

The New England District is working to finalize the drawings for each home left in the Program and send a homeowner package to each homeowner. To date, $10M in federal funding has been received for the Project. Additional federal funding will be received as the Project progresses. State funding from the Rhode Island legislature is projected to be provided in July 2024.

2020 - 2022

Beginning in 2020 and through 2022, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District conducted property surveys for all the homes who expressed interest to participate in this voluntary program. Post survey work, the engineers within the District developed conceptual drawings to illustrate the plans for each home in the Program. 

Project Background

The Pawcatuck River Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study area is on the south coast of Rhode Island and includes about 28 miles of moderately developed coast in the towns of Westerly, Charlestown, South Kingstown, and Narragansett. The study area includes a series of coastal barrier beaches that front seven coastal ponds. The floodplain completely encompasses the barriers and ponds.

Residential and commercial properties in the Pawcatuck River coastal floodplain are all vulnerable to inundation from coastal storms. Property on the coastal barriers is subject to wave attack as well and to a lesser extent, erosion. The study area includes about 4,800 structures most of which are residential. There is some commercial property in Westerly and South Kingstown. Point Judith in Narragansett has the largest concentration of commercial property and is home to the third largest fishing port in New England. The total value of the existing residential and commercial inventory is estimated to be worth over $600 million. Rock revetments are located along approximately 23% of the beach front properties within Westerly and 31% in the Matunuck area of South Kingstown. Other than that, the shoreline consists of sandy barrier beaches.

The Feasibility Study plan formulation considered a range of structural and nonstructural measures to reduce the risk of storm damage in the study area. Through an iterative planning process, potential coastal storm risk management measures were identified, evaluated, and compared. Initial screening of alternatives determined that detailed study of structural (sheet pile floodwalls and tide gates), soft structural (beach fill/nourishment), and nonstructural (elevation and buyout of properties) should be conducted in Westerly due to the amount of denser development there. Conversely, only non-structural alternatives made sense for full evaluation in the towns of Charlestown, South Kingstown, and Narragansett.   In the end a non-structural plan was recommended for implementation across the four communities and consists of elevating 247 primarily residential structures and flood proofing 21 commercial structures.


Please call or email the Project Manager, Sam Bell at (978) 318-8727 to speak with a member of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District. He can also be reached at by email at 

Project Resources

Coming Soon. 

Project Information

Project Type: Other

Rhode Island Sponsor:  Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC)

CPRA Project Phase: Engineering & Design

Towns: South Kingtown, Narragansett, Charlestown, and Westerly