Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Beach Fill Blog Has Moved!

The Surfrider Foundation has consolidated all of our issue-based blogs into one Coastal Blog. Come check it out at

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Another Crappy Beach

That's two in as many weeks. This one is in Topsail Beach, NC. Shells are the culprit. What gets me is the cost the town will incur for the cleanup; $22,000. Thanks to Surfrider Foundation's Florida staff person for spotting this one!

The sand should have been tested right? What happened?

Full story here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Balls of Clay in Texas

No that title is not about a certain type of bravado unique to Texas residents. It is what they got in a beachfill on South Padre Island. We've seen many instances of dredge and fill projects leaving poor quality material on beaches; but never like this, never clay balls.
How would you like it if your local beach turned into this?

Read the full story at a South Padre local's blog

And many, many more pictures here.

I'm sure the ACOE did the same lengthy feasibility study that is required for such projects. The end result being a foot-tall stack of paper. It gives the impression that every possibility has been studied and every variable has been tested. Yet we still get end results like this. You'd think they tested the borrow area material right?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dealing with Storm Damage & Preparing for Sea Level Rise

Some people think nothing can be done about our original sin of building too close to the coast. They have an "oh-well" attitude and accept beachfill as a fact of life whether they like it or not.

Other people are visionaries. They see the future and they see value in protecting public resources for the lowest cost in the long run.

This is a great video about thinking ahead, working together, and preserving public resources at the lowest cost to taxpayers. Two things jump out at me about this video. They started in 1995! It took sixteen years to get to construction but it is doable. The other is that the engineered development (bike path) at the beach failed after three years.

More at and Paul Jenkin, featured in the video, also waged a ten year battle to remove the Matilija Dam thereby freeing the sand that would naturally feed the beaches. So he not only gave the beaches "Room to Move", he is going to provide them with sand as well.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Lessons from an Unlikely Place - the Passaic River

We are often asked about the alternatives to beachfill as if there really aren't any. In fact there are quite a few, and we've unexpectedly found many of them all in one place. The report of The Passaic River Flood Advisory Committee

Amazingly, piling mounds of material on the banks of the river is NOT one of their recommendations. Yet many of their findings would work equally well on the coast as alternatives to the dredge, dump, and fill regimes. Others of course are unique to this river system. The complete list is below with the points that apply to the coast in bold type.

The Advisory Commission's comprehensive plan recommends:
1) Expanding and expediting floodway buyouts, with State Blue Acres funds and FEMA funds.
2) Encouraging home elevation projects in flood prone areas if acquisition is not an option.
3) Buying undeveloped land for use as flood storage areas.
4) Improving operation of the Pompton Lakes dam floodgates.
5) Initiating de-snagging and shoal dredging efforts to facilitate improved river flows.
6) Removing feeder dams to offer flood relief to Pompton Lakes, Wayne and Pequannock.
7) State adoption of National Flood Insurance Program regulations to ensure state rules are consistent with local flood control ordinances, and eliminating the risk that FEMA could suspend its flood insurance program in New Jersey.
8) Expediting the DEP's permit process to let towns more quickly obtain permits to de-snag and remove river debris, repair retaining walls and remove shoals.
9) Improving effectiveness and efficiency of county and local emergency response plans.
10) Enhancing the Passaic River flood warning system.
11) Contracting with the National Weather Service to create inundation maps to provide critical information to enable quicker flood projections and greater storm preparedness.
12) Enhancing public involvement, information and outreach on flood issues.
13) Requesting a re-evaluation by the Army Corps of Engineers of the larger potential major engineering projects for long-term flood damage reduction.
14) Updating floodplain mapping to eliminate decades-old maps that do not include detailed modeling of floodplains.
15) Having towns in the Passaic River Basin pursue flood risk reduction changes to their master plans, zoning ordinances and flood prevention ordinances, to guide future development away from floodplains or prevent future development in these high risk flood-prone areas.

If these solutions are good enough for the State of NJ in the Passaic River Basin, why are they not even discussed for our beaches and coastlines? Quite the opposite is true in NJ. Development has gone wild following beach replenishment making the entire coast even more vulnerable.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Public Money For Private Beaches? NJ Residents Opposed

A new poll finds that an overwhelming number of New Jersey residents think beaches that are replenished with public money should be publicly accessible.

A whopping 82% of people surveyed say the few inaccessible beach towns should become more accessible in exchange for beachfill money.

Story here

But that is not the plan of NJ Governor Chris Christie. His DEP is about to change beach access rules to allow these inaccessible towns to get beachfill money. More from the August 2010 blog entry.

An Editorial Board agrees with the people of NJ here

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lawyers Screw their Clients out of Sand

State calls off big Galveston beach project

Last week the TX Supreme Court took some of the teeth out of the Open Beaches Act, ruling that properties that suffer erosion from storms can't be ceded to the public, as was previously the case. The TX General Land Office (GLO), who manages public shorelines, decided that this ruling means the state can't go forward with a large Beach Fill project because it would now benefit private property. Of course the project would have benefited the very people who brought the original case.

"It's kind of ironic that the Pacific Legal Foundation, who supposedly is on the side of property owners, has just screwed the property owners who were going to have a direct benefit from the renourished beaches," Patterson said. He said that without the project, the rapidly eroding beach will put some of those houses in the Gulf of Mexico much faster.

So much for unintended consequences.