Beach Replenishment Begins
Although many believe that the summer season in Delaware’s beach resorts ends with the Labor Day holiday, the fact is that Delaware’s climate often provides warm, sunny days throughout the fall, and sometimes into the winter. For this reason, officials attempt to delay maintenance until beach visitors dwindle as the days become shorter and cooler. One of the most controversial forms of maintenance performed on Delaware beaches is beach replenishment, which began in Dewey Beach on November 5, 2011.
What is Beach Replenishment?
Also known as beach nourishment, beach replenishment replaces sand that is lost due to erosion by dredging replacement sand from the ocean. Coastal storms are often the most common reason that sand is lost from beaches, but some erosion occurs naturally as the ocean waters pull sand from the beach. In the case of Delaware beach resorts, dredging equipment draws sand from an area known as the Fenwick Island Borrow area, located 16 miles offshore. This area is approved by Delaware Natural Resources and Environmental Control for beach replenishment and has been used for replenishment projects in the past. The Army Corps of Engineers manages all beach replenishment projects.
Dewey Beach Replenishment
Equipment was delivered to the Dewey Beach location on November 5, 2011 and dredging began when the pipes were assembled. The project is centered at Dagsworthy Street, will work south to Collins Street before returning to Dagsworthy Street and moving north to neighboring Rehoboth Beach. A replenishment project is scheduled to begin in January in Bethany Beach.
Beach replenishment has been controversial in Delaware for some time as many residents feel the tax dollars spent on fighting a natural occurrence could be better used elsewhere. Residents feel that beach replenishment occurs mainly to draw more tourists to the area while other state programs are underfunded. The fact is that beach replenishment is necessary for more than just attracting tourists.
Purposes of Beach Replenishment
Although beaches are important tourist attractions and bring significant revenue to the area, state officials use other criteria when determining whether to invest in replenishment projects. Beaches are the first line of defense against coastal storm damage and if they were not replenished, many homes and businesses would be lost to the sea each year. Although many proponents of beach replenishment argue that building too close to the beaches actually leads to erosion and that replenishment projects are just postponing the inevitable. The fact is that the loss of beaches can result in a devastating effect on the job market in a resort area, as evidenced by Miami Beach before its replenishment project in the late 1970’s. There are also environmental factors that must be considered as loss of beaches could affect sea turtles, migratory birds and other wildlife that use beaches for nesting areas.
The Dewey Beach Replenishment project is scheduled to last throughout the winter before the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company moves the project to Rehoboth Beach at the end of the year.