Sunday, December 3, 2023

$20M beach renourishment project starting soon on Pleasure Island

U.S. Rep. David Rouzer helped arrange money for beach renourishment on Carolina and Kure beaches. (Port City Daily/Preston Lennon)

CAROLINA BEACH — Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company, the largest dredging provider in the country, will soon descend on Pleasure Island to tackle beach renourishment projects on Carolina and Kure beaches. 

Following a year of funding uncertainty that required the intervention of North Carolina’s congressional delegation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced on Jan. 18 that Great Lakes was awarded the Pleasure Island contract for $20.3 million. 

PREVIOUSLY: Funding for Wilmington-area beach nourishment disappears at last minute; local leaders shocked

Beach renourishment — the periodic injection of new sand onto beach strands to mitigate erosion and damage from coastal storms — is scheduled to happen every three years on Carolina and Kure beaches. 

Work is expected to begin this month, and Great Lakes will be required to wrap the job by the end of March. 

“We are very excited to get this project started,” Carolina Beach Mayor Lynn Barbee saidin a statement. “Our engineered beach has proven to be a cost effective method for protecting our coastal infrastructure. In a time of divisive politics, it was great to see elected officials on both sides of the aisle from town hall, county, state and federal pull together to make this happen.”

Brendan Dooley, a project manager for the Army Corps, which oversees these projects, said the new sand for Pleasure Island will be sourced from an offshore site in the ocean, and moved through a pipe onto the strands of the two beach towns. This is a change from past versions of the project, when contractors drew sand from Carolina Beach Inlet to replenish the stock on Carolina Beach. That’s no longer an option under new federal guidelines. 

READ MORE: New Biden administration policy could jeopardize beach renourishment formula for local towns

The first signs of work visible to beachgoers, Dooley said, will be the piping. Great Lakes could deploy a hopper dredge to collect material from the ocean floor and store it in a container on the vessel before flowing the sand through the pipe. It also could utilize a pipeline dredge, which funnels sand straight from the point of collection toward the beach. 

“They’ll build up containing walls for the material to all come out, and then they’ll start moving it around and shaping it into the template we’ve designed, with bulldozers and equipment on the beach,” Dooley said. 

The beach renourishment projects for Pleasure Island — as well as those for Wrightsville Beach, scheduled every four years — have federal approval through 2036. “We’re not doing anything that’s going to change that,” Dooley said. “And the nourishment interval will stay the same and all that.”

Though Wrightsville Beach was scheduled for a renourishment event in this same window, the new federal guidelines that restrict drawing sand from protected coastal areas have complicated its progress. Before a contract can be awarded, the Army Corps needs to secure approvals for an offshore site from which Wrightsville Beach can take sand. (Kure Beach has always taken sand from the ocean for its beach renourishment projects, and Carolina Beach was easily able to tap into that site.) 

ALSO: Beach renourishment fix puts Pleasure Island back on track, leaves Wrightsville Beach behind

All three projects were denied expected funding a year ago. U.S. Rep. David Rouzer helped arrange money for beach renourishment on Carolina and Kure beaches, keeping those projects on schedule, but Wrightsville Beachwill be delayed as the Army Corps finalizes an offshore location to dredge sand from. 

Last month, Congress appropriated $11.6 million for the Wrightsville Beach project in legislation related to disaster relief. In addition, the Army Corps is still seeking more capital for Wrightsville Beach through its annual, internal work plan process, which provides funding to projects across the country. 

“We’re still asking for funding,” Dooley said. “That’s not enough to do the whole job, so we’re still asking for money through the work plan. So hopefully that will get some additional funding for Wrightsville.”

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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