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DeBordieu: Beach nourishment project won't include groins

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Engineers are working to figure out how much sand will be needed for a beach nourishment project at DeBordieu now that property owners have decided to drop plans for three rock and concrete groins to help hold the sand in place.

The DeBordieu Colony Community Association voted last month to alter its plans rather than spend two or three years defending a legal challenge brought after the state Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management issued a permit for the project in March.

“We have an immediate need,” said Blanche Brown, general manager of the community association. “Perhaps another time.”

The beach nourishment project calls for placing 795,000 cubic yards of sand on 1.8 miles of beach at the south end of DeBordieu. The community association said the groins were necessary to hold the sand in place and reduce the frequency of nourishment projects.

Groins are built perpendicular to the beach to trap sand carried in the current that moves parallel to the shore. The state allows construction of groins to protect property on beaches with high rates of erosion, provided they don’t impact adjacent beaches.

The beach south of DeBordieu is part of Hobcaw Barony, owned by the Belle W. Baruch Foundation and used for scientific research. The foundation and environmental groups objected to the groins, saying they would increase erosion at Hobcaw. They appealed the permit decision in August.

The community association has not released a cost estimate for the project, which will be funded by its members. Brown said removing the groins should save money as well as time since the project was initially designed with surplus sand to mitigate any impact from the groins.

In addition to saving the cost of the three groins and years of legal fees, the association expects to save on the cost of monitoring that was required to measure the effect of the groins, Brown said.

Attorneys for the Baruch Foundation have been in discussion with DeBordieu attoneys about the change for several weeks, said George Chastain, the foundation executive director.

“We’re excited about the decision,” Chastain said.

The foundation doesn’t object to the beach nourishment project without the groins, he said.

If the permit is amended to remove the groins, “it will remove all our objections,” he said.

Once a new design is prepared and costs are available, the project will be brought up for another vote by DeBordieu property owners, Brown said. The goal is to start in December and finish in 2013.

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