DNREC will begin replenishing Pickering Beach, Kitts Hummock, Bowers, South Bowers, and Slaughter Beach communities in early January 2022, largely because of recent storm damage.
The sand will come from inland sources, including reusing dredged material.
The nourishment, as the Shoreline and Waterway Management Section calls it, introduce sand into the shoreline system to offset the effects of erosion.
The state spends millions adding sand to combat erosion and other problems because the beaches and dunes are an important natural line of defense between the Delaware Bay and inland public and private infrastructure, including houses and roads.
The Delaware Bay beaches and dunes also provide habitat to plants and animals, as well as providing recreation for people.
These five beaches ranked high in DNREC’s 2020 assessment of beach vulnerability, a press release said, and planning for the project has been underway since mid-2021.
Beach surveys and monitoring by the Shoreline and Waterway Management Section, together with resident and community feedback, show these five communities were among the most impacted by coastal storms that produced widespread damages throughout the Delaware Bay shoreline in October and November.
DNREC crews will use trucks to haul in sand from a clean inland source and put it on sections of the beach and dunes most degraded by erosion and storms, but not along the entirety of each beach.
DNREC expects the cost of sand to be high and availability limited because of high demands for sand from the construction industry.
At South Bowers, beach-quality sand will be dredged from the Murderkill River Inlet and entrance channel and placed on the beach. The re-use of dredged material is a regional sediment management technique that allows sand to remain in the local coastal system and provides cost advantages via mutual benefits from a single project.
Site preparation work for the nourishment projects will begin in mid- to late-December. Individual communities will receive sand at different times based on the availability of sand, personnel and equipment.
The truck-haul projects must be completed by April 15 on most of the beaches and by March 1 on Slaughter Beach, when beach and dune construction must end to avoid adverse impacts to fish and wildlife.
Further replenishment will be considered for fall/winter of 2022.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience.
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