Beach renourishment:'If you don’t have the beach, and the beach erodes, your tourism goes’

Beach renourishment:'If you don’t have the beach, and the beach erodes, your tourism goes’, (Sydney Glenn/WPDE)

The Army Corp of Engineers is in the middle of a multi-million dollar emergency beach renourishment project for Horry and Georgetown County beaches.

“In one way, beach renourishment is kind of a midterm solution to a long term problem. We have to really stay at it and we’re going to probably, in all likelihood, increase our intensity of it if we’re really going to maintain it for the longer term,” Dr. Paul Gayes, a professor at Coastal Carolina University, said.

Beach renourishment in the City of North Myrtle Beach is complete, as part of that project, but fixing the beaches as a whole is a never ending process.

The city has applied for a permit to do additional dune restoration work. Right now, the city is almost done with one project, according to city spokesperson Pat Dowling.

“We have to truck it [the sand] somewhere because it has to be removed from that basin, from the Cherry Grove dredging project. So, no better place to put it than on the beach because that’s where it originally came from in the first place,” he said.

If the permit is approved, work on the project could begin as early as the end of February and would cost around $215,000. The funding would come from the Cherry Grove Dredging Project.

Protecting the beaches is a top priority.

“The beach is everything to this city, it’s everything to the Grand Strand, it’s everything to Coastal Carolina. If you don’t have the beach, and the beach erodes, your tourism goes with it,” Dowling said.

If the beaches aren't taken care of, there could be big consequences, Gayes said.

“It’s [beach renourishment] a means to replace sand that’s naturally eroding away over time and if we were not to do that we would see the beach continue to move in a landward direction and threaten our structures and our infrastructure," he said.

Here is the latest status of beach renourishment, according to Horry County spokesperson Kelly Moore:

The heavy-construction portion of the beach renourishment project (offshore dredging and placement / grading of sand on beach) for Reaches 1 and 3 was completed last fall. Reach 1 covers North Myrtle Beach, and Reach 3 covers Garden City, Surfside Beach, and campgrounds (south of MB State Park). Both reaches were advertised together as one contract by the ACOE.
The fencing and grassing portion of this project is under construction now (Reaches 1 and 3). The sand fence and dune grasses will provide a location for sand dunes to become established and grow, which will provide additional protection for property and infrastructure along our beachfront.
The ACOE is planning to execute a contract for renourishment of Reach 2 (Myrtle Beach) this spring / summer. Arcadian Shores may also get nourished later this year while the contractor is here for Reach 2 if both the timeline for permitting and the availability of funds allow (county funds w/ state grant and FEMA reimbursement for a portion).

Georgetown County is also in discussion with Fema for help with sand lost during Hurrican Irma.

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