Contact: Michele Walker, 919-733-2293, ext. 229
Beach fill rules take effect Feb. 1
RALEIGH — A new set of rules designed to ensure the quality of sand used for beach nourishment projects in North Carolina will take effect Feb. 1.
The rules governing Technical Standards for Beach Fill Projects will require those projects to meet a new set of criteria for determining compatibility of the sand used to nourish North Carolina beaches.
The N.C. Coastal Resources Commission adopted the rules last November based on recommendations from the Coastal Resource Commission’s Science Panel on Coastal Hazards, data analysis and review by the Division of Coastal Management and input from numerous stakeholder groups.
“These new rules are a significant step forward in our efforts to improve the quality of material used in beach nourishment projects,” said Division of Coastal Management Director Charles Jones. “(They) will greatly reduce the possibility of finding rocks, mud and other incompatible materials on nourished beaches along our coast.”
Beach nourishment, also known generically as beach fill, is the practice of placing sediment on a beach to combat shoreline erosion. Because North Carolina law prohibits “hard” oceanfront structures, such as seawalls and groins, beach fill has become a popular alternative for erosion control. Sediment for many large-scale beach fill projects is either a byproduct of navigation maintenance projects within inlets and the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, dredged from offshore deposits, or excavated and transported to the beach from upland locations. The sediment from these sites may be significantly different in character from the beach on which it is to be placed.
The CRC’s previous rule, which stated only that sand used for beach nourishment must be compatible with existing grain size and type, was deemed vague, and the commission’s Science Panel on Coastal Hazards began working to develop new sediment criteria in 2002. The Science Panel provides the Commission with scientific data and recommendations pertaining to coastal topics.
The new rules provide an objective definition of sediment compatibility for beach fill projects, and outlines specific protocols for sampling both the beach scheduled to receive nourishment and the proposed borrow site, in order to correctly characterize the material found there. These methods will help ensure that future beach fill projects will closely mimic the native characteristics of North Carolina’s beaches.
For more information on the new sediment criteria rules, please visit the division’s Web site at http://www.nccoastalmanagement.net/sediment.htm.