State of the Beach/Model Programs/Beach Fill

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Beach Fill

Below, examples pertaining to beach fill follow an outline of the Surfrider Foundation's goals in this area.

Beach Fill Goals

  • Recognition of the beach, as opposed to the shore, as valuable economic resource.
  • Consideration of alternatives to beach nourishment.
  • An accurate and up to date inventory of beach nourishment projects that includes full disclosure of funding sources and costs.
  • Comprehensive long-term monitoring of effectiveness and for potential adverse impacts and cumulative effects.

Program Examples


According to the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management (NCDCM), experience in North Carolina and other states has shown that beach fill projects can present a feasible alternative to the loss or massive relocation of oceanfront development. Nourishment projects may be allowed when:

1. Erosion threatens to degrade public beaches and to damage public and private properties;
2. Beach restoration, nourishment or sand-disposal projects are determined to be socially and economically feasible and cause no significant adverse environmental impacts;
3. The project is determined to be consistent with state policies for shoreline erosion response and state use standards for areas of environmental concern and the relevant rules and guidelines of state and federal review agencies.

When the above conditions are met, the Coastal Resources Commission (CRC) supports, within overall budgetary constraints, state financial participation in beach nourishment projects that are cost-shared with the federal government and the affected local governments pursuant to the federal Water Resources Development Act of 1986 and the N.C. Water Resources Development Program. The state Division of Water Resources administers this program. The following are required with state funding or sponsorship of beach restoration and sand nourishment projects:

1. The entire restored portion of the beach will be in permanent public ownership;
2. It shall be a local government responsibility to provide adequate parking, public access and services for public recreational use of the restored beach.

For additional information on beach nourishment and other measures that may be used to protect oceanfront property in North Carolina check out the NCDCM Coastal Hazards and Storm Information website.


South Carolina produces an annual State of the Beaches Report. The following test is from the 2005-2006 Report.

The following represents a ranking of beach renourishment and beach restoration needs based upon DHEC-OCRM Regulation 30-18, which sets forth criteria for evaluating beach renourishment projects. Proposed projects are ranked based upon the environmental impact of the project, the public recreational benefits, the storm damage mitigation benefits to adjacent buildings and structures, the expected useful life of the project, and the extent of support for the project. Beaches which are highly eroded but were already scheduled for renourishment during 2006 are not included in this list.
First Priority: The Grand Strand
The 26-mile stretch of beach from the Cherry Grove section of North Myrtle Beach to southern Garden City Beach near Murrells Inlet was all included in a massive beach nourishment project sponsored by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1996-1998. At the time, the overall effort was described as a 50-year project, with follow-up renourishment expected to be performed every 8-10 years. If federal funding is available it is likely that another large-scale renourishment project will be constructed here around 2008. Based on past federal/state/local funding ratios it is expected the state's share of this next project will cost approximately $10 million. State money should begin to be allocated to this project now, and over the next few years, so that the total amount required will be available when needed.
Second Priority: Pawleys Island, Georgetown County
The southern end of Pawley's Island is low-lying, with little or no sand dunes. A 1999 beach nourishment project using sand borrowed from the sand spit at the southern end of the island provided temporary relief but did not add any new sand to the littoral system. The dune that protects the public parking area has been chronically eroded for the past few years and has been rebuilt several times by emergency sand-scraping. This large public parking area, one of the few areas providing good public beach access in Georgetown County, is in jeopardy. The developed southern end of Pawleys Island also lacks a sand dune, and the ocean water comes up under several houses at high tide. The Corps of Engineers is currently studying the beach erosion problem at Pawleys Island. Any federal renourishment project here will most likely include a requirement for both state and local funding.
NOTE: Sullivan's Island, Charleston County
While most of Sullivan's Island is stable to accretional, the section closest to Breach Inlet from Station 29 to Station 32 has a long-term erosion rate of -2 ft per year and has been chronically sand-starved for at least 10 years. This 3-block section of Sullivans Island, about 2,000 ft long, is one of the most critically eroded beaches in Charleston County. The beach is steep and narrow with little or no sand dune and no high-tide beach. Local match for state money may be problematic.

For comparison purposes, the following is a list of renourishment projects completed during the 1990s with the State's share of the total project cost.

Area Completion Date State Cost
Pawleys Island 1999 $1,300,000
Edisto Beach State Park 1999 $250,000
Sea Pines - Hilton Head Island 1999 $0
Debidue Beach 1998 $0
Grand Strand 1998 $10,000,000
Sullivans Island 1998 $230,000
Folly Beach County Park 1998 $100,000
Daufuskie Island 1998 $0
Hilton Head Island 1997 $0
Edisto Beach 1995 $1,000,000
Folly Beach 1993 $3,500,000
Hunting Island State Park 1991 $2,900,000
Seabrook Island 1990 $0
Debidue Beach 1990 $0
Hilton Head Island 1990 $8,000,000
TOTAL - $27,280,000

As can be seen from the above table, the State of South Carolina spent an average of $2,728,000 per year on beach renourishment projects during the 1990s.