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Beach commission gets update on ocean search for sand for future beach nourishment projects

This Geodynamics graphic shows how the Newport-based company is searching for beach-quality sand. (Brad Rich screenshot)

Posted on July 29, 2022

EMERALD ISLE — Dave Bernstein of Geodynamics, the county’s beach surveying firm, said Monday the ocean search for and identify offshore sand to use for future beach nourishment projects is about 25 percent complete.

Speaking during a meeting of the Carteret County Beach Commission in Emerald Isle, Mr. Bernstein said he is optimistic the multi-year project will find good sources of beach-quality sand, but the real key will be to determine whether they are “feasible” to mine, in terms of difficulty to bring up and distance to site, both of which will affect cost.

Among the best possible sites, he said, are “paleo channels,” old channels that ran to the ocean before being buried as sea level rose.

“We are in a geologically unique area” where there are a lot of those channels, he said.

The beach commission endorsed the project last year after completing three years of nourishment work along Bogue Banks beaches, from Fort Macon State Park at the east end of the island to the tip of Emerald Ise at the western end. While there are no nourishment projects currently planned, and experts don’t believe the  search for additional sand is an emergency, county commissioners last year approved $1 million for this first phase of the work.

At that time, Greg Rudolph, then manager of the County Shore Protection Office, noted there have been “sand wars” in Florida, as local governments scramble to find beach-quality material for increasing numbers of nourishment projects.

At that same time, Doug Piatkowski of the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management told the beach commission there is increasing demand for Outer Continental Shelf sand in the federal waters, which extend from 3 to 200 miles offshore, in part because the resources in state waters are diminishing. It’s the result of increasing number of hurricanes and coastal erosion, he added, he said.

The county’s goal is to make sure that in addition to the traditional sand “borrow” site in the ocean off Atlantic Beach, there will be enough sand to available to cover the needs for the 45 remaining years in the county’s 50-year beach nourishment master plan. Once good sites have been identified the county would work with the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to get permits to obtain it and use it.


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