Posted on February 5, 2024
Much-needed relief in the form of 500,000 cubic yards of sand is headed to the Isle of Palms to address rampant beach erosion, courtesy of the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
The background and specs of the undertaking were provided by USACE Project Engineer Jacob Kyzar at the Isle of Palms Jan. 23 City Council meeting, as the Charleston District rep clued in elected officials on imminent sand placement via a hydraulic pipeline.
Upon the project being rewarded to an area contractor, the sand distribution is scheduled to kick off in late March and conclude in late August, according to Kyzar, who explained how the eroded rock terrain would be spread in three zones, from 2nd to 10th avenues. In addition, Sullivan’s Island is also slated to be on the receiving end of the sand in question.
The forthcoming endeavor, it was noted, is part of the USACE’s excavation of the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW) — a 3,000-mile body of water along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts — in the interest of clearing shoals (sandbanks exposed above the surface of water) in the area.
All material removed from the ICW would then be placed on the beaches of the Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island.
“We’re doing this under our operation budget — it’s at no cost to the City,” said Kyzar of the 24/7 venture featuring limited heavy equipment, beach lighting, pipeline and limited grading.
Moreover, the agency spokesperson reported that all transported sand would be deposited below high tide in the surf/swash zone. Kyzar also clarified that this work would constitute a “one-time thing” and would not be considered a typical full-scale renourishment.
In responding to questions from Councilmember Jan Anderson, Steven Traynum of Coastal Science and Engineering (CSE) stated that the incoming sand would help the waves break further offshore and dissipate their energy before reaching the beach.
“If we didn’t touch the project at all, it would be a huge benefit” added Traynum on the prospect of a subsequent sand transition by the City to higher-risk beach areas.
On the subject of the new sand potentially emitting noxious odors, Kyzar assured the governing body that the dredged material shouldn’t smell any different than what’s already there.
He further mentioned that while the 24/7 activities won’t be noise-free, they wouldn’t generate as much of an audible disturbance as a full-scale renourishment would.