Fenwick Beach Pumping Begins

Fenwick Beach Pumping Begins
Beach replenishment work is pictured between Cannon and Dagsboro streets. File Photo

FENWICK ISLAND – A beach replenishment project kicked off in Fenwick Island this week.

After working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over the span of weeks, a long-awaited beach replenishment project kicked off in Fenwick Island Monday. While crews were anticipated to arrive in July, at the height of the town’s summer season, officials with USACE announced it had secured a second dredge company to complete work in Delaware’s coastal communities ahead of Memorial Day, beginning in Fenwick.

“They are actually going to be mobilizing at the Fenwick Island State Park starting next week …,” Mayor Natalie Magdeburger said in an April 28 council meeting. “God willing, and no more storms, they’re going to start throwing sand on our beaches on May 15. The best news of all is they estimated they will be out of here by May 29.”

The state, in partnership with USACE typically performs beach renourishment projects in Lewes, Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach, South Bethany and Fenwick Island through a cost shared between the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) and USACE.

The federal agency has developed a design that includes periodic nourishment at an interval between three and six years. And in December, USACE announced it had awarded a $23 million contract to Weeks Marine to conduct periodic nourishment along the Delaware coast.

The contract calls for dredging sand from offshore borrow sites, pumping it onto the beaches through a series of pipes, and grading it into an engineered dune and berm template, which is designed to reduce damages from coastal storms.

The dredge company was scheduled to begin in Rehoboth Beach and work south toward Fenwick Island, where 207,000 cubic yards of sand will be pumped onto the town’s beaches. In recent months, however, Fenwick officials have expressed concerns that the project would interfere with the town’s summer season, as well as its 70th birthday celebration and annual beach bonfire.

Beach replenishment was scheduled to start in Fenwick in July. Working with USACE Philadelphia District Commander Lt. Col. Ramon Brigantti, however, the agency was able to hire a second dredge company.

“Hopefully by Memorial Day it will be done,” Town Manager Pat Schuchman said. “This is great for us. It’s never happened to us before.”

Officials say updates on beach replenishment and beach closures will be posted on the town’s website and Facebook page.

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.