What Does Beach Replenishment Really Cost

 

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Map of beach replenishment in Delaware

Over the years Delaware beaches were replenished one hundred and seven times , at a cost of $160,257,597, using 21,967,819 cubic yards of sand.   You will probably be surprised where replenishment occurred.  Not just the ocean beaches but Delaware Bay beaches in the past have been replenished.  Our high number includes the fact sand is moved from one side of the Indian River Inlet to the other side.  This is a sand relocation project that keeps sand from building up on the south side of the inlet, and is pumped to the north side of the inlet.  This way the sands natural movement north can continue on to the point in Cape Henlopen,a nd to keep it from filling in the inlet.  Recently I was sent a link to the page, Beach Nourishment Viewer.  It is a study by Western Carolina University on the amount money relative to the amount of beach nourishment done over the years.  The website has a map that shows the progression of beach nourishment since 1996 to 2015.  You can even select the state and look at individual states.  Delaware has spent more than Maryland on beach replenishment.  I call it replenishment, I know they call it nourishment, but there is nothing nourishing about covering aquatic life up with sand and smothering it.  New Jersey has spent over a billion dollars “nourishing” their beaches over the years.  Delaware is neck and neck with Virginia on costs.

 

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North Beach at IRI costs and episode reasons
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Using the website is easy.  Select a state, then you can actually dig deeper and look at specific beaches in that state.  Or you can just look at the overall costs and amounts of material used.  There are colored dots that range from green to red.  Green is a one time episode, and red is more than thirty-three episodes.  Our Indian River inlet north beach is in the red.   When you go to a specific page like the Indian River inlet you see what the episode or project was, how much it cost, and how much material was used.  You also see why the episode was called for, in 1961 the beach was nourished for navigation, which I am assuming was sand relocation.   In 1990 section 111 took over paying for the sand relocation and that is the title it was given.  In 2013 there was an emergency dredging and nourishment at the tune of  $6,589,500.  I think it is interesting to see just how much money and material goes into replenishment.

On a side note presently the beaches are looking good, as they naturally build back up, state parks never replenish beaches and they do just fine.  If you look at the old coast guard stand at the north beach, it was sticking three feet out of the sand after storm Jonas and now it is almost covered up, by the natural build up of sand by wind.  Food for thought.  Why spend this much money on a system that is considered a band-aid by the very people who administer it?  Alternatives would be nice to see for the future instead of just pouring money into a temporary fix.  Eventually we will not have anywhere to get the material needed for these replenishment projects, you can only have so many borrow pits in the ocean.  I have other studies we will share with you as we get permission, because they are ongoing studies.  They all say the same thing … replenishment kills aquatic life, especially in the surf zone, and it takes years for it to come back.

 

Fish On!!

Rich King

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