Fenwick Island Beach Renourishment Eyed

FENWICK ISLAND – With a contractor selected, Fenwick Island Mayor Natalie Magdeburger said the town can likely expect beach renourishment work to begin early next year.

In a Fenwick Island Town Council meeting Monday, Magdeburger announced plans for beach replenishment in Fenwick Island. With a notice to proceed given to the contractor, she said work will continue throughout the first half of 2023.

“We haven’t heard if we will be the first or the last,” she said. “I suspect we will be the last.”

Earlier this month, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) Philadelphia District awarded a contract to Weeks Marine for $23.8 million to conduct periodic nourishment on three dune and beachfill projects along the Delaware coast. Those projects will take place in Rehoboth and Dewey beaches, Bethany and South Bethany beaches, and Fenwick Island.

“Weeks Marine is expected to begin dredging and beachfill operations in the winter/spring of 2023,” a news statement reads. “Dunes and associated beach access points will be repaired in certain areas; however, most of the work includes widening the beach between the toe of the dune and the water line.”

The contract – a joint effort between the USACE and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) – calls for dredging sand from offshore borrow sites. Sand is then pumped through a series of pipes, placed on beaches, and graded into an engineered dune and berm template, which is designed to reduce damages from coastal storm events.

In Fenwick Island, USACE reports roughly 207,000 cubic yards of sand will be placed from James Street south to Lighthouse Road. While the goal is to complete the renourishment project before the start of the 2023 season, Magdeburger told community members this week some work could likely continue into the early summer months.

“We should probably anticipate having some of our beach days interrupted by beach renourishment,” she said.

The state, in partnership with the USACE, typically performs beach nourishment projects in Lewes, Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach, South Bethany and Fenwick Island, funded through a cost shared between DNREC and USACE.

The federal agency has developed a design that includes periodic nourishment at an interval between three and six years. Those projects, however, are dependent on the availability of funding at both the federal and state level.

According to USACE Philadelphia District, a scheduled replenishment project along Fenwick’s beaches was set to commence last year. But last February, town officials announced the Army Corps would not return in 2021.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.