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Beaches: Offshore sand builds up DeBordieu beach

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

A beach nourishment project that was delayed by a dispute over construction of three rock and concrete groins at DeBordieu is now under way without the groins.

Work began last month to pump 795,000 cubic yards of sand from borrow sites 2 to 3 miles off North Inlet. “The community is excited about it,” said Blanche Brown, general manager of the DeBordieu Colony Community Association.

The association applied in 2008 for permits to build the groins, which trap sand that moves in currents parallel to the shore. State law only allows groins as part of ongoing beach nourishment projects, so the association amended its application to place sand along 1.8 miles of beach. The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management approved the project in 2011. Conservation groups appealed the permits.

Rather than defend the project in court, the association agreed in 2012 to drop the groins, which were intended to protect the southern end of the DeBordieu beachfront and increase the lifespan of the nourishment project.

The permit runs through September 2016, but Brown said the work is due to be completed by the end of April. It will create a berm 8 feet high and between 100 and 162 feet wide at high tide. Although the permit allows 795,000 cubic yards to be pumped ashore, the net amount for the project is 625,000 cubic yards.

“It’s 100 percent privately funded,” Brown said. She declined to give the cost, but said it’s being paid for by a special assessment on property owners. The last beach nourishment project at DeBordieu was in 2006. It cost $6.2 million.

Marinex Construction of Charleston won the bid for the work. Its dredge Savannah was towed to the borrow sites by tugboats last month. The dredge caught the attention of beachfront residents and visitors, many of whom had puzzled over the appearance of Navy ships offshore last year.

The dredge has a 24-inch cutter-head and a 10,000 horsepower engine that pumps the sand onshore. It arrives in a slurry that’s about 80 percent water. Bulldozers and front-end loaders then move the sand to the approved contours.

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