Beach nourishment underway on Pleasure Island is your source for free news and information in the Wilmington area.

The last Carolina Beach nourishment wrapped in early 2013. Photo by Ben Brown
The last Carolina Beach nourishment wrapped in early 2013. File photo.

Much-needed sand has started to come to the shores of Kure Beach and Carolina Beach after a couple months of delays.

Parts of the town’s beaches are getting built back up by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers through their coastal storm damage reduction projects, also known as beach nourishment, which occurs every three years for the two Pleasure Island beach towns. This cycle, which cost $12.3 million dollars total (65 percent of which is paid using federal dollars, with the remaining 35 percent split between local governments) was originally scheduled to start in November.

According to Bob Kiestler, project manager for the ACE in Wilmington, workers from the contractor, Marinex Construction out of North Charleston, S.C., started pumping sand in Kure Beach earlier this month. About 655,000 cubic yards will be placed on that beach in different areas.

“Some of it will be north of the pier, but the bulk of it will be south of the pier,” said Kiestler, who added that much of the northern part of the Kure Beach project has already been completed.

In order to imagine that much sand, Kiestler said a good measure would be to think of a commercial dump truck that people see on the highway, which holds 10 cubic yards.

“We’re basically putting the equivalent of 65,500 truck loads of sand on the beach,” Kiestler said.

The sand going to Kure Beach is being piped from the Atlantic Ocean, which means the project is susceptible to weather delays. On Wednesday morning of this week, for example, workers were not able to work on the project (but were able to help move a humpback whale that was found on the beach).

“If the waves get to be six to eight feet high, they can’t pump sand from that location,” Kiestler said of the Kure Beach site.

That is in contrast to the 890,000 cubic yards of sand going to Carolina Beach, which will be pumped from the inlet on the other side of the island. Kiestler said fewer weather-related delays are expected for the Carolina Beach project. The Army Corps of Engineers and their contractor will be placing sand from just south of the Carolina Beach fishing pier to near the boardwalk.

“The town of Carolina Beach is very excited about the 2015 – 2016 CSDR project,” Town Manager Michael Cramer wrote in an email. “Although the project was slow to get started, we are glad to see it moving forward.”

Officials in Carolina Beach in particular were concerned about the timeline, as they are the last beach to be worked on. The nourishment can only be done between the months of November and April, during an “environmental window” when sea turtles are not making their nests on the beaches. There are also concerns about the work continuing during the tourist season, which generally kicks into high gear after Easter. All equipment must be off the beaches by April 30, after which fines are levied.

In order to increase efficiency, Kiestler said Marinex is in the process of bringing in a second dredger that will start working in Carolina Beach to help get that project underway. According to Cramer, they’re also working to help speed up the process.

“The town has helped the contractor by closing the Ocean Boulevard beach access and parking area and allowing the contractor to use this area for staging equipment and pipe,” Cramer wrote. “We have also allowed them to stage pipe on Freeman Park in anticipation of work on the inlet.”

Both Cramer and Kiestler said Marinex expects to have the work completed by the deadline.

“We’re really trying hard to complete the work within the environmental window,” Kiestler said. “Right now we think we’re going to make it.”