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Norfolk, Virginia Beach tackle beach erosion as summer approaches

Chic's Beach in Virginia Beach

Posted on May 6, 2024

As the summer beach season approaches, both the cities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach say the beaches along the Chesapeake Bay are ready to go.

News 3 got an update on both of them and talked with them about issues like beach erosion.

“The City of Virginia Beach has a strong commitment to maintaining its beaches to rescue storm damages and flooding through beach nourishment,” said Daniel Adams, coastal program administrator for the city.

Chic’s Beach underwent a large re-nourishment project in 2018, which helped build the dunes people can see today. Adams says since then, the dunes have done their job and protected the nearby properties.

“I think the consequences of doing nothing are more expensive than the consequence of doing something,” he said.

More nourishment is scheduled for this summer, with sand coming from an area near the CBBT.

In addition, the city had a project to restore sand at Ocean Park in 2022 and another project is scheduled for First Landing State Park later this year.

“We think Virginia Beach has made a huge investment in shore protection and it’s paying dividends,” said Adams. “Our beaches are in really good shape.”

In Norfolk, the city had a nourishment project this year in East Beach.

Residents told News 3 they were finding large rocks and other strange materials in the sand.

“This is the type of thing,” said Bucky Tretler, who lives nearby. “Larger boulders than this came up on shore.”

A rock sits in the sand in East Beach.

The City of Norfolk acknowledges the issue.

“We did find some larger pieces of debris in that fill that was supplied to East Beach this time,” said Tammy Halstead, a civil engineer with the City of Norfolk. “We’re taking measures to clear that debris out so that we don’t have any further issues.”

This project involved about 12,000 cubic yards from the HRBT Expansion Project.

“Beach erosion is a big concern for all beaches,” said Halstead. “It’s an ongoing project to replenish and keep the beach wide enough and the dunes high enough to sustain any unexpected storm event.”

The project is not as major as the 1.2 million cubic yards used in 2017 to replenish Ocean View through the Army Corp of Engineers.

A similar project is scheduled to happen again in 2026.

Halstead City studied when to do a large-scale project and found nine years would be “best for performance.”

Norfolk also uses barriers, called breakwaters, to absorb some of the energy from waves to help calm erosion in Willoughby and East Beach.

“The breakwaters were installed to slow down the wave action, particularly during big storm events,” said Halstead.

The city wants to remind people to stay off them, as they are sharp and slippery.

Those barriers are not used along the bay in Virginia Beach.

“We think there’s a trade-off there with aesthetics and some safety concerns,” said Adams.

With the summer quickly approaching, both cities say the bay beaches should be in good shape.

“[East Beach] is looking better,” said Halstead. “We have approximately three more feet of elevation and definitely more feet of beach width.”


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