Thursday, June 20, 2024

Beach nourishment project one step closer to approval for Surf City

Surf City could receive final approval any day now on its standalone USACE beach nourishment project, after North Topsail Beach dropped out last summer. (Port City Daily/Amy Passaretti)

SURF CITY — Surf City town leadership is hopeful its revamped beach nourishment project will be approved, following neighboring North Topsail Beach’s withdrawal last summer. The United States Army Corps of Engineers is finalizing the review of a validation report, which would allow a 50-year beach nourishment plan to move forward with Surf City as a standalone project.

“This has been a project over 22 years in the making, but it pays to be patient and persistent on a project of this magnitude,” Mayor Doug Medlin said. “I am thrilled to see us in this stage after decades of work and perseverance.”

Last July, North Topsail Beach pulled out of the joint project, putting the brakes on forward movement. If approved, Surf City’s 6 miles of beach would be replenished with roughly 15 million cubic yards of sand.

The two towns were federally authorized as a joint project in 2014, and $237 million was appropriated in 2019 from the Disaster Relief Act. Since North Topsail Beach dropped out of the plan, USACE needs to revamp the plan to justify a separate plan.

READ MORE: Left hanging by North Topsail, Surf City regroups on beach renourishment efforts

“You can’t build half a project,” USACE Wilmington District Col. Ben Bennett told Surf City council in December. “It was appropriated for an entire thing and we at the Corps of Engineers, and especially at the district level, don’t have the authority to just build part of it because it was funded as an entirety.”

The way forward is receiving approval from USACE Lt. Gen. Scott Spellman through a validation process. USACE has been re-evaluating the financials in an effort to avoid re-doing a feasibility study.

Once the report is approved, a draft Project Partnership Agreement will be presented to the town for evaluation and approval by town council. According to a Surf City press release, the town and USACE are working toward a 2024 completion date.

The federal project will significantly increase the amount of sand on Surf City beaches by constructing a new dune projected to be 25-feet wide at an elevation of 15-feet above sea level. It will also create a 50-foot-wide berm.

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