BERLIN – Three Delaware beaches will undergo replenishment projects later this year to address damaged dunes and battered beaches.
On Monday, Sen. Tom Carper, along with officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Tony Pratt of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), announced that beaches along the three coastal towns of Fenwick Island, South Bethany and Bethany Beach will undergo a replenishment project this fall to repair the beaches and dune systems damaged by recent storms.
“What we’ve learned from past storms is that beach replenishment works if we are proactive in protecting our coastline,” Carper said in a press release. “Our dunes and beaches have stood up to the nastiest storms and protected our homes, businesses, schools and infrastructure.”
According to the Army Corps of Engineers, the multi-million dollar project will be completely funded through the federal government using money from the Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies program, which enables the Army Corps of Engineers to repair shorelines damaged by storms.
Fenwick Island Mayor Gene Langan said officials from the three towns were pleased that the federal government would fund the entire project and complete the beach replenishment during the resorts’ off season.
“We are absolutely delighted,” he said.
In recent weeks, Langan expressed his concerns over proposed budget cuts and its impact on Fenwick Island’s long-awaited beach replenishment funding in an April meeting of the town council.
Langan informed the council that he and other mayors from the Association of Coastal Towns (ACT) would reach out to the Army Corps of Engineers and DNREC regarding the economic impact of coastal towns and its beaches.
Langan said it was because of the continual open dialogue between local, state and federal officials that made the beach replenishment project a reality.
“The people from ACT, specifically the three mayors from Bethany, South Bethany and me at Fenwick Island did contact state and federal officials for assistance,” he said. “We always kept discussions going about how much we needed it.”
Langan said the beach replenishment project will address deteriorating dunes and beachfront along Fenwick Island’s shoreline.
“I was very concerned about our dunes because the eastern sides of the dunes were starting to get sheared off because of the Nor’easters we had,” he said.
South Bethany Mayor Pat Voveris expressed her appreciation to Carper and other state and federal officials for their efforts to support the beach replenishment.
“It was a great dialogue and message to be delivered,” she said.
Voveris explained that in recent years storms have taken a toll on South Bethany’s beach and dune system.
“The loss of the sand means a loss of an area that residents and tourists can enjoy,” she said. “It should be looked after and cared for.”
Voveris said that the federally funded project would not only benefit coastal towns, but inland residents as well. “It’s not for us but for the entire state,” she said. “We are very excited and we welcome this news.”
The Army Corps of Engineers’ Philadelphia District will move forward in the contracting process before the projects begin this fall.
Dredged sand from offshore borrow areas will be pumped onto the beaches and then graded into berms and dunes, which act as buffers to infrastructure located near the shoreline.
Carper explained that the project will help to protect the state’s tourism industry.
“Some people may question why we continue to replenish our beaches,” he said in the release. “Our 21 miles of oceanfront are more than just sand and surf – they generate more than $6.9 billion in coastal tourism annually, employing almost 60,000 people. This is more than 10 percent of Delaware’s workforce. It’s important work that protects not only our community but our economy as well.”