What is Beach Nourishment?
Beach nourishment widens existing beaches by pumping sand from offshore “borrow sites” or sandbars onto the shoreline. The goal of these projects is to provide an added barrier of protection to shorelines that have experienced significant erosion and to prevent property and infrastructure damage in these exposed areas.
The Most Recent Project Between Corolla & Nags Head, NC
In 2019, the town of Nags Head received beach nourishment from 2919 S. Virginia Dare Trail (the Bonnett Street public beach access near Milepost 11) south to the town line at Milepost 21, approximately 10 miles of beach. The contractor, Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company, used two offshore borrow sites to place 4.6 million cubic yards of sand in the project area. This helpful video explains that project further:
Future Re-nourishment Between Corolla & Nags Head, NC
Beach nourishment projects require management as time goes on. The next round of re-nourishment is tentatively planned for 2022 in the towns of Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, and Kill Devil Hills. Plans are in the early stages, but a contract has been secured with Coastal Protection Engineering in Wilmington, NC.
The town of Nags Head is exploring re-nourishment as well, and their project could also take place in 2022.
More About Beach Nourishment
Beach nourishment schedules are very dynamic due to weather, equipment, and other factors that can arise. The work runs 24 hours/day during the projects and moves fairly quickly. Dredge support operations begin approximately one month before construction, which includes laying subline and assembling land-based machinery.
Once construction begins, there is generally a closed section of beach about 1,000 feet in length which moves as the work progresses along the shore. A dredge is used to pump sand through sublines onto the beach, and bulldozers are used to spread the sand. Pipes are connected to the subline as work moves forward, and sand ramps are built over the pipe to provide pedestrian beach access to the freshly nourished shore. As work continues forward, the pipes are relocated near the next subline.
After the project is completed, new sand fencing is usually installed and native sprigs are planted to further stabilize the dune line along the freshly nourished beach. The beach will be much wider just after construction, however, up to half of the visible beach is expected to equilibrate in the months following the end of a nourishment project. Beach nourishment takes advantage of ocean currents and wave energy to move the placed sand off of the beach to form a gradual slope underwater. This slope is the ultimate goal of the project; it’s what causes wave energy to dissipate further offshore, protecting coastal infrastructure.
Past Beach Nourishment Projects Between Corolla & Nags Head, NC
Duck: Project completed June 28th, 2017.
1.7 miles of shoreline was nourished between Oyster Catcher Lane and the Army Corps of Engineers Field Research Facility.
Southern Shores: Project completed August 6th, 2017.
2,500 feet of shoreline was nourished from the Kitty Hawk town line north to 44 Ocean Boulevard.
Kitty Hawk: Project completed October 21st, 2017.
3.58 miles of shoreline was nourished (the entire length of the town).
Kill Devil Hills: Project completed July 27th, 2017.
2.6 miles of shoreline was nourished from the Kitty Hawk town line south to Prospect Avenue.
Nags Head: A renourishment project was completed August 18th, 2019; the town’s first beach nourishment project was completed in May 2011.
Both projects spanned the area from the Bonnett Street public beach access at 2919 South Virginia Dare Trail to the town’s boundary with Cape Hatteras National Seashore (from Milepost 11 to Milepost 21).
Note: The town of Corolla has not had a beach nourishment project. The town began a 3-year beach monitoring and beach stability assessment in spring 2020 to help determine any future beach nourishment plans. The first year of monitoring is complete, and the assessment and the assessment’s referenced Appendix C are available to the public.
Outer Banks Beach Nourishment Links
Learn more about beach nourishment on our blog.
For the most current information about beach nourishment in Dare County, visit MoreBeachtoLove.com. (Note: Corolla is part of Currituck County.)