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Downdraft impact of groins gets study

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

The dispute over a plan to build rock and concrete groins at DeBordieu to hold sand on the beach hasn’t changed in the 18 months between hearings on the project. It remains focused on the impact the structures will have on the adjacent beach at Hobcaw Barony.

The state Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management and the Corps of Engineers are reviewing the permit application from the DeBordieu Colony Community Association to build three groins as part of a project that will place 795,000 cubic yards of sand on 1.8 miles of beach.

Getting state and federal approval is only the first step. DeBordieu property owners will have to vote to fund the project, said David Van Hoose, a member of the association’s beach committee.

A hearing last week replayed the argument heard in July 2008, when a hearing was held on the groins without the beach nourishment. Van Hoose said property owners can vote for the beach nourishment with or without the groins, or vote to do nothing.

Environmental groups, state and federal wildlife agencies and the Baruch Foundation oppose the project, saying it will cause erosion on the undeveloped beach at Hobcaw and damage wildlife habitat.

DeBordieu residents have been split in their comments, but most of those who spoke at last week’s hearing supported the groins.

“Groins might not be so attractive,” said Lanning Risher, who has a beachfront home. “Houses falling in the ocean are less attractive.”

The plan claims there will be a benefit to the Hobcaw beachfront because that is where sand from previous nourishment projects end up. Because sand will be placed on top of the groins, the structures won’t interrupt the natural movement of sand parallel to the shore, said Fran Way, the project engineer.

The groins are intended to hold the sand on the DeBordieu beach and cut the cost of future renourishment.

Opponents point out that the Hobcaw property is part of a National Estuarine Research Reserve, and the subject of ongoing study.

“We don’t know what the impacts are going to be,” said Amy Armstrong, an environmental attorney. “Why would we put this kinds of resource at risk?”

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