Posted on May 10, 2023
Officials say the hiring of an additional dredge company will allow beach replenishment in Fenwick Island to conclude before Memorial Day.
In last week’s town council meeting, Mayor Natalie Magdeburger announced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has hired a second dredge company to complete beach replenishment work in Delaware’s coastal communities, beginning in Fenwick Island. She noted USACE Philadelphia District Commander Lt. Col. Ramon Brigantti notified the town last Tuesday.
“They are actually going to be mobilizing at the Fenwick Island State Park starting next week …,” she said. “God willing, and no more storms, they’re going to start throwing sand on our beaches on May 15. The best news of all is they estimated they will be out of here by May 29.”
The state, in partnership with USACE typically performs beach renourishment projects in Lewes, Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach, South Bethany and Fenwick Island through a cost shared between the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) and USACE.
The federal agency has developed a design that includes periodic nourishment at an interval between three and six years. And in December, USACE announced it had awarded a $23 million contract to Weeks Marine to conduct periodic nourishment along the Delaware coast. The contract calls for dredging sand from offshore borrow sites, pumping it onto the beaches through a series of pipes, and grading it into an engineered dune and berm template, which is designed to reduce damages from coastal storms.
The dredge company was scheduled to begin in Rehoboth Beach and work south toward Fenwick Island, where 207,000 cubic yards of sand will be pumped onto the town’s beaches. In recent months, however, Fenwick officials have expressed concerns the project would interfere with the town’s summer season. Beach replenishment was scheduled to start in Fenwick in July.
Working with Brigantti, however, she said the USACE was able to secure a second dredge company.
“Fenwick is blessed and has a friend in our Army Corps of Engineers,” she said. “Once they are done here, they will move up to South Bethany. Depending on how long that goes on, they sort or meet in the middle with the folks that are coming from the north.”
Town Manager Pat Schuchman said staging areas will be located at Indi an, Farmington and Bayard streets, but that times will be announced at a later date. Once dredging begins in mid-May, crews will work for a two-week period.
“Hopefully by Memorial Day it will be done,” she said. “This is great for us. It’s never happened to us before.”