Beach sand supply still adequate for Bogue Banks nourishment if needed, study finds

There’s still plenty of sand available for future beach nourishment projects, like this one in Emerald Isle this year, according to Carteret County Shore Protection Officer Greg Rudolph. (Carteret County Shore Protection Office photo)

EMERALD ISLE — Despite putting close to 6 million cubic yards of sand on Bogue Banks beaches in the past three years, Carteret County still has enough sand available just offshore to nourish the strand for 12 to 15 years, barring major storms that cause huge erosion events.

County Shore Protection Officer Manager Greg Rudolph, speaking during a County Beach Commission meeting Monday in Emerald Isle, said bottom-survey studies under the auspices of engineering firm Moffat & Nichol show there’s about 15.4million cubic yards of beach-quality sand still available, much of it in the borrow site just off Atlantic Beach, in state waters.

In addition to that site, there’s more sand available a bit farther offshore in federal waters – which begin 3 miles out – although the county would have to get permission to use it, he added. There’s also sand nearby that has eroded from Shackleford Banks. Additionally, there are renewable sources of sand available from the annual dredging projects at the N.C. Port of Morehead City.

At any rate, despite $85 million worth of nourishment work along almost the whole 25- to 26-mile length of Bogue Banks, “we’re still in good shape,” Mr. Rudolph told the beach commission, whose members represent the county and all four Bogue Banks municipalities.

In response to questions from the commission, Mr. Rudolph said there are some concerns about the costs of transporting from farther, if that were to become necessary because when the current borrow site is depleted.

“If we go 10 miles (from the farthest nourishment site at the end of Emerald Isle) it’s going to (cost) a lot more,” commission member Larry Baldwin said.

Mr. Rudolph said he doesn’t anticipate that being necessary anytime soon, however.

“I hope we’re not going to have to nourish for a couple of years,” he said.

Plus, the county’s occupancy tax revenues – of which 50% goes to the beach nourishment reserve fund – is setting records, month after month, filling the reserve coffers with so much money Mr. Rudolph said he’s not too worried about covering increased costs if they arise for projects needed in the near future.

The Bogue Inlet channel, which the county and Emerald Isle paid to relocate farther offshore years ago, remains stable, he also reported, not moving quickly toward The Point in Emerald Isle. Before the move in 2005, erosion was threatening some of the most high-value homes and property on Bogue Banks. At least for now, the county doesn’t have to plan to use any money to repeat that project.

The bottom line, beach commission Chairperson Jim Normile of Emerald Isle said Monday, is the county doesn’t appear to be in an “emergency” situation pertaining to available sand for beach work.

Still, board member Mike Luther of Indian Beach said, “it sounds like we might have to move” farther away from the normal sand source off Atlantic Beach in the future at some point.

 

Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.

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