WRDA moves forward— More money for sand at Tybee: U.S. Senate committee advances beach renourishment act

Posted on May 11, 2022

Tybee Island is close to securing federal dollars for future beach renourishment projects.

The Tybee Island Storm Risk Management Act, which extends the federal funding contract for another 50 years, passed a key Senate committee, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, with bipartisan support on Wednesday.

The legislation is part of the larger Water Resources Development Act of 2022 (WRDA), a key measure passed biannually by Congress to “authorize U.S. Army Corps of Engineers activities for flood control, navigation and ecosystem restoration.”

In depth: As Tybee Island’s federal contract for beach renourishment ends, officials look to what’s next

Senate committee approval will allow the Tybee bill to move to the Senate floor for a vote. If eventually passed by Congress, the island can continue to seek federal funding after 2024, which is when its current federal authorization for beach renourishment projects ends.

Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Georgia), who championed the bill, said he will continue to work to get the bill signed into law.

“This bill will help protect the beautiful Tybee island as part of my ongoing effort to support, protect, and invest in coastal Georgia,” Ossoff said in a press release statement.

Beach renourishment projects, which consist of pumping sand from an off-shore borrow site onto Tybee’s shores, have helped reinforce the low-lying barrier island’s coastline for decades. Since 1974, Tybee Island has worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to periodically build up its receding shores that often fall victim to storms, hurricane and other inclement weather.

Before:Sen. Ossoff: Tybee Beach renourishments funds key to protect ‘precious natural resources’

Rising sea levels and increasing storm surge forecast even greater threats to the island community and its natural resources. Tide gauge data at Fort Pulaski shows that Tybee Island has experienced 10 inches of sea level rise since 1935. Data also indicates the sea has been rising at a rate of 3 millimeters a year for the last 75 years, which amounts to about a foot a century.

“There are going to be damaging tropical storms and this legislation will not provide 100% protection for this island, but it will empower the Army Corps to do vital work that will mitigate that damage,” said Ossoff during a visit to Tybee Island in March.

Tybee Island is also waiting on a $5 million ask from the state to replenish beach sand as well.

Traditionally, beach renourishment projects have ranged from $10 to $18 million. Federal dollars have typically covered around 60% of the costs.

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