Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sand Bypass Experiment - Sort Of

When we first heard of a plan to dredge sand from the bottom of the Navesink River and put it on the beach in Monmouth Beach, NJ we were skeptical about the quality of the sand. Any time sand is taken from the bottom of a river there should be an abundance of caution. Thankfully there is no industry along this river and no known potential sources of pollution. Still, we think the sand should be tested; it is cheap relative to the cost of the project. On numerous occasions unexpected items have been dredged up. We don’t want those unexpected items to be toxins or harmful bacteria.

Typically, the State or the Army Corps will test the material for its composition and grain size only. They never test for toxins if they find the material to be 90% sand. (No one has ever explained what that other 10% is allowed to be.)

Interestingly, the sand is being brought via pipeline over land to its intended beach. It is very similar to a sand bypass system that we have advocated as an alternative to large beachfill projects for years. In this case a pipeline is takes sand off the river bottom, brings it across the narrow barrier spit of Monmouth Beach, under State Highway 36, and over the seawall. The pipe runs down the seawall to the south and discharges on the ocean side, about midway down the wall.

We have long maintained that a sand bypass system could be a less expensive solution in many areas of the Jersey Shore. Namely, areas where there is an abundance of sand on a wide beach not too far away from an eroded area. The idea is to pump the sand from one to the other as opposed to pumping from

offshore, or from the bottom of a river. Think Sandy Hook; very wide to the north, narrow to the south. Or Long Beach Island where the beaches are a half mile wide in Barnegat Light, and nearby Harvey Cedars has very little beach at all.

Let’s hope this sand bypass-ish experiment works, and we see more of this in the future.