EMERALD ISLE — The Carteret County Beach Commission voted unanimously Monday to endorse a plan to spend $2.95 million to work with engineers and state and federal officials to identity sources of sand for future nourishment projects.
The vote came during a meeting in the Emerald Isle Board of Commissioners’ meeting room and online via Zoom.
The money is for the first phase of a multi-year project by the county’s beach engineering firm, Moffatt & Nichol.
Although the county has way more than enough money in its beach nourishment fund – which receives half the proceeds from the 6% tax on rental accommodations – board members expressed hope state and federal agencies might kick in funds. Those agencies could include the N.C. Division of Coastal Management, the Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. Representatives from BOEM were at the meeting, as were representatives of Moffatt & Nichol. Chris Freeman of Geodynamics, the county’s beach monitoring and sand surveying firm, based in Newport, also participated in the discussion.
“It’s a great opportunity for a county, state, federal effort,” said commission member Larry Baldwin of Pine Knoll Shores. “The data is everything to make a good decision. Three million is a lot of money, but it’s a great opportunity.”
Greg Rudolph, manager of the County Shore Protection Office, noted there are “sand wars” in Florida, as local governments scramble to find beach-quality material for increasing numbers of nourishment projects.
Doug Piatkowski of BOEM said there is increasing demand for Outer Continental Shelf sand in the federal waters, which extend from 3 to 200 miles offshore, in part because the resources in state waters are diminishing. It’s the result of increasing number of hurricanes and coastal erosion, he added.
According to Mr. Rudolph, the first phase of the work will be an “initial reconnaissance/desktop-level examination” of existing literature about where significant deposits of high-quality sand are located close to Bogue Banks, other than at the long-used dredge disposal site in the ocean just off Atlantic Beach.
Once the study has determined where those deposits are, it would be followed by an effort to take core samples to verify amounts and quality.
The goal is to find enough sand to cover the needs for the 47 remaining years in the county’s 50-year beach nourishment master plan.
There’s not an immediate need for sand to augment the existing site, Mr. Rudolph said, but it would be good to identify cost-effective deposits to ensure there will be enough for years to come.
It’s estimated there are 12 million cubic yards of sand or more left on the borrow site. However, Mr. Rudolph told the commission the county has put close to 5 million cubic yards of sand on Bogue in the past three years, and no one knows what future needs will be.
All involved in the discussion agreed there’s not an urgent problem and the search, after the first phase, will need to be stringently designed, timed and carefully monitored to avoid harm to marine mammals and possible cultural resources, such as buried shipwrecks. The bottom line, according to beach commission Chairperson Jim Normile of Emerald Isle, is by undertaking the study, “we’re doing the prudent thing.
“Rudi (Mr. Rudolph) has done a great job putting this together,” he added. “I’ve often said that those on this board before us were visionaries. Now we have a chance to do the same. Should a need (for new sand sources arise,) we’ll know where the sand is and how to access it,” Mr. Normile concluded.
The entire effort could take three years or more.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.