Beach Nourishment + Maintenance

March 11, 2024

Eroded: Oak Island Beach in Oak Island, North Carolina in 2019 (by Gerry Dincher, CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED via Flickr).

Why Oak Island is looking 18 miles off its coast for sand to nourish its eroded beach – Wilmington StarNews Online

Faced with an eroding beach, Oak Island wants to pump fresh sand onto its oceanfront. But finding a viable sand source might mean going a long way offshore

Not for the first time, the west end of Oak Island needs sand.

Hurricane Isaias, which raked the Brunswick County shoreline nearly four years ago, chewed away a lot of the beach. Storms, king tides and gradual sea-level rise has since then added to the pain.

But there isn’t enough available beach-compatible material near shore, or sand that isn’t already planned for other projects, to support a large-scale nourishment.

That has Oak Island officials eyeing a 250-acre borrow site as far out as where gigantic energy-producing offshore wind turbines are planned to help stabilize and rebuild much of the town’s beach even as they also potentially look toward a more permanent solution for the erosion-prone area near Lockwood Folly Inlet − namely a terminal groin.

On Feb. 2, the Brunswick County beach town submitted a permit application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Wilmington district office seeking approval for a project this winter to stabilize and rebuild much of the beach’s dune line. The offshore borrow site would be the primary source for the proposed 3 million cubic yards of material, with sand from the mouth of the Cape Fear River, dredged by the corps as part of the Wilmington Harbor project, as a potential secondary source.

“The proposed project is primarily a berm designed to provide advanced fill for a 6-year renourishment interval,” states the town’s application.

But what makes this project potentially unique, and expensive, is where Oak Island is eyeing to get the majority of its sand. The island is looking at mining a borrow site roughly 18 miles offshore as the primary source for sand. That will require the sand to be mined and transported close to shore by a hopper dredge before it can be placed onto the beach, a much more expensive method than simply pumping sand via pipes from nearby channels or inlets onto a beach.

To put that in perspective, sand for the federally funded Wrightsville Beach nourishment project that is currently wrapping up came from Masonboro Inlet after a prolonged tug-of-war with federal and environmental officials over using sand from a site in a Coastal Barrier Resources Area (CBRA) zone. If that appeal by the town had failed, it was eyeing a borrow site roughly three miles offshore.

Farther up the coast, Topsail Beach used sand from New Topsail Inlet and nearby channels for its roughly $25 million project this winter.

Because the proposed Oak Island sand source is in federal waters, beyond the three-mile jurisdictional limit of North Carolina’s state waters, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is coordinating with the Corps on the application review…

More on Beach Nourishment + Maintenance . . .

First Phase of Port Monmouth, NJ Coastal Storm Management Project Begins - July 1, 2014 (courtesy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Public Domain, via Flickr).

Dredging, beach replenishment continues in Monmouth County – PBS

Tens of millions of dollars pour into the state each year to fund beach replenishment efforts ..

“…we are doing it with the intent of preserving the economic usefulness of oceanfront properties that are being threatened by erosion and shoreline migration, sea-level rise and storm waves and so forth…That methodology (used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) is flawed because it uses property value to determine the benefits of nourishment and our belief is that our property values aren’t the correct way to assess the utilization or return on public funds. A better way of doing that is looking at what are the public benefits.”
– Andy Coburn, Associate Director for the Study of Developed Shorelines | Western Carolina State University

Postcard Beach scene from Boardwalk, Sea Isle City N. J. c. 1930–1945 (courtesy of Boston Public Library, The Tichnor Brothers Collection, public domain).

Sea Isle’s Beach Replenishment Project to Start in Spring – Sea Isle News

Sea Isle City approved a $3.2 million funding package Tuesday to pay for its share of a beach replenishment project that will restore parts of its eroded shoreline with 640,000 cubic yards of fresh sand…(that) is part of a $33.7 million project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that will include replenishing the storm-damaged beaches and dunes in the southern end of Ocean City and Strathmere…

Aerial view of US Corps of Engineers' Townsends Inlet to Cape May Inlet Project (courtesy of the US Army Corps of Engineers).

The Disappearing Beach –

More than $2.6 billion has been spent dumping sand onto the Jersey Shore. Was it worth it?

Waves lap up against the narrow shore of North Wildwood as Patrick Rosenello straightens his sunglasses, and leans against the steel seawall, the soft sand crumbling beneath his tan dress shoes.

Quiet as he is, the mayor doesn’t have to utter a word about how important the tiny specks of sediment are to the resort town. His navy sweater vest says it all.

The municipality’s seal features two dolphins flanking the phrase “Sun and Sand.”

Carlsbad (by Dusty CC BY-NC 2.0 via Flickr).

Carlsbad considers joining other coastal cities in yet another sand replenishment project – the San Diego Union-Tribune

SANDAG asked Carlsbad to shoulder a proportional share of the $200,000 cost for a planning, feasibility and economic analysis needed to start the project, which would pull sand from the ocean and spread it on beaches from Oceanside to Imperial Beach….

UPDATE: The City Council unanimously opposed actively participating in the City of Oceanside’s sand nourishment pilot project during its April 11 meeting, remaining opposed to any plans that may obstruct the natural flow of sand down the San Diego County coastline.

However, the Carlsbad City Council agreed to request a city staffer be present during the neighboring city’s proposed pilot project meetings and design competitions…

Sunday Afternoon on the Pacific Surfliner: View of Beach & Lifequard Tower, Orange County (by Joe Wolf CC BY-ND 2.0 via Flickr).

Massive beach restoration project for Orange County coastline approved – CBS | KCAL News

The Federal Government has agreed to a major beach restoration project in Orange County to restore almost 2 million cubic feet of sand lost to storm erosion over the past several years.

The sand will be dredged from the sea and added to replenish the coastline from Seal Beach to Bolsa Chica to Huntington Beach and as far as the Newport Beach Pier.

“We’re experiencing a large amount of receding of sand into the ocean,” said Kevin Pearsall, State Parks Superintendent.

The project will help protect property and roads from flooding. Seal Beach saw flooding in January.

“It’s nerve wracking that they have to do that, but time erodes everything,” said Colleen Walsh, a Bolsa Chica resident…

“Recycling” Glass Back to Sand … For Beaches?

There have been several recent proposals and some projects actually underway to grind up glass bottles and use this ground glass to replenish beaches. Along most shorelines, other than in tropical environments, the dominant mineral making up the beach sand is quartz, which is silicon dioxide (SiO2), the same elemental composition as glass. While this may initially seem like a good solution for replenishing or nourishing disappearing or narrow beaches, this concept is not a sustainable or effective approach.

Initially derived from silica sand glass is a valuable resource that is already in a pure form that can most effectively be recycled or melted down to make more glass, rather than being put on the beach where it will be lost to the ocean over time as it is carried offshore or alongshore…

Glass Powder (by Hideya Hamano CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via Flickr).

Use of Pulverized Recycled Glass for Beach Nourishment: A Review – Georgia Coastal Research Council (GCRC)

This paper reviews geotechnical, biological, and abiotic analyses conducted on the experimental placement of recycled glass on beaches in Florida. It will also describe the experiences local governments have had when considering the use of recycled glass as an alternative material for beach nourishment.

Coastal erosion caused by increased extreme weather events and sea level rise is escalating the rate and extent to which beaches are washing away. Traditionally, inland and offshore sand and dredged material from rivers, canals, and the ocean have been used to nourish beaches, but these resources are becoming increasingly expensive and difficult to obtain…

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