Are you responsible for a section of beach, whether coastal or inland? If so, you may need to know about beach re-nourishment. What is this valuable and beautifying process? And what should you know about how to make the most of it? Discover a few answers.
What Is Beach Re-Nourishment?
At its most basic, beach re-nourishment is the process of replacing lost sand on a coastline with new sand to help prevent erosion problems, protect the shoreline, and extend the beach. The source of replacement sand and other organic material may be from dredging up other areas (borrow areas) or new sand from nearby quarry sources.
Depending on the levels of erosion and tidal forces as well as man-made activities, a beach may need re-nourished every several years. And the individual sessions of re-nourishment may need done in a series of projects to lessen the impact on wildlife as well as on residents and businesses.
What Are the Advantages of Re-Nourishment?
Re-nourishment is one of a number of methods that deal with erosion of sandy areas, but it has the advantage of being one of the more natural ways to go about it. Sand is a natural coastal element, and when re-nourishing is done with a view to maintaining the natural order of things, it can be preferable to a hard barrier — both in appearance and in effect on the environment.
Re-nourishment helps protect more than just the sand on the beach itself. By extending the sandy shore of a body of water, structures and land beyond the sand have protection with a larger barrier against the sea. The more space between them and the open water, the less residents will have to worry about flooding, storm surges, and tidal issues. This increases the value of homes and businesses and provides peace of mind.
Better beaches also provide better opportunities for both local use and tourism. An eroded beach may not be able to hold very many people, limiting recreation and the draw of tourism money to the community — or limiting landowner use of the property they own.
Adding usable sandy areas and bolstering the entire coastal area against damage means everything is a more attractive destination. And since re-nourishment also includes erosion control work with nearby vegetation, it makes surrounding land more usable too — both by wildlife and by humans.
What Are Some Drawbacks of This Method?
Re-nourishment is not without its challenges. Sand will need to be carefully sourced so as to provide the closest approximation of local sand already on the beach. Some communities solve this problem by mining sand from a nearby location or underwater buildup. The less similar the sand is, the more likely it is to suffer unwanted erosion or to be incompatible with local wildlife.
Wildlife is another consideration for re-nourishment projects. When the beach experiences a wholesale introduction of new sand, this impacts existing beach animal life. Animals like sand crabs, clams, and jellyfish are often adversely affected in the short term and may need human help repopulating. And if the sand makeup is significantly different, these creatures and their food sources may not fully recover as before.
Anyone who undertakes re-nourishment must also understand that this is not a permanent solution. Because it replaces what was lost, the new sand will eventually be lost as well. You may be able to undertake other efforts to combat the sources of certain erosion problems in other ways, or you may simply need to plan on a regular schedule of re-nourishment to keep things in good shape.
How Can You Make the Most of Re-Nourishment?
As with any large scale construction project, there are a variety of ways those in charge can minimize the negative effects of a re-nourishment scheme and maximize the benefits.
Timing is one of the major ways to do this. If your project can commence during a period when the affected beach has fewer coastal or marine life on it — usually due to seasonal or reproductive cycles — the ecosystem can recover in less time. And by spacing out individual re-nourishment sessions in the right way, longer-living species have more opportunity to recover and repopulate the sand.
Where Should You Start?
Do you think that your particular stretch of coastline could use re-nourishment? Start by meeting with a marine construction contractor to assess its candidacy for this method as well as other options you may have. With an experienced contractor on your team, you can find the right time, the right source, and the right approach to your own beach effort.
Abbotts’ Construction Services, Inc., has worked with many Florida communities for 35 years. We can help provide the solutions you need to face the challenges in your region. Call today to make an appointment and learn more. We look forward to meeting with you.