State of the Beach/State Reports/MD/Beach Fill

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Maryland Ratings
Indicator Type Information Status
Beach Access88
Water Quality77
Beach Erosion8-
Erosion Response-6
Beach Fill6-
Shoreline Structures8 4
Beach Ecology2-
Surfing Areas25
Coastal Development{{{19}}}{{{20}}}
Sea Level Rise{{{21}}}{{{22}}}


State, Territory, and Commonwealth Beach Nourishment Programs, A National Overview (NOAA, March 2000) provides the following information:

"The state does not have a beach nourishment policy.

Related Policies

Near Shore Sand Mining Regulations

Md. Code Ann., Nat. Res. §7-6A07. Requires a permit for near shore sand mining.

Dredge and Fill Regulations

Md. Code Ann., Nat. Res. §9-202. Requires a license to dredge or fill on state wetlands.

Sand Scraping/Dune Reshaping Regulations

Md. Code Ann., Nat. Res. §8-1105.1. Allows sand scraping/dune reshaping if for storm control, beach erosion and sediment control or maintenance projects to benefit the Beach Erosion Control District.

Beach Nourishment Funding Program

There is a state funding program for beach nourishment.

Md. Code Ann., Nat. Res. §8-1105.2, 8-1105.3. Ocean Beach Replenishment Fund. Established the Ocean Beach Replenishment Fund to be used for: (1) bulkhead construction; (2) dune restoration or construction; (3) beach replenishment; and, (4) land acquisition. Such projects must be part of an integrated plan for providing storm and flood protection and are to be cost-shared with local jurisdictions on a 50%-50% basis of the non-federal costs (other than land acquisition for which the state assumes 100%).

Shoreline Improvement Loan Fund Program. The purpose of this program is to allow the State to make grants up to 75% of the total cost allowing local governments to undertake projects on shoreline areas they own within the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area for abatement of eroding shoreline.

Amount of State Funding

Approximately $1 million per year from the Ocean Beach Fund."

The state does participate in beach fill projects at all levels of government. Permits for fill projects are jointly issued by the Maryland Department of the Environment and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Erosion response activities along the ocean front are regulated by Ocean City and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Responses in estuarine areas are the responsibility of Maryland Deptartment of the Environment.

The state has a long-term beach fill plan, which is available by request from Maryland DNR or the Army Corps of Engineers. The estimated cost for beach fill projects over the next 50 years is $81 million.[1]

Funding sources for erosion response projects include the Shore Erosion Control Revolving Loan Fund and the Program Open Space funding for Ocean City refill.

Maryland Codes, Natural Resources Sections 7-9 guide beach fill activities in the state. Also see Maryland's Coastal Policies.

State policies related to beach fill consider the potential impacts of beach fill projects on beach ecology.


Maryland does not have an inventory of beach fill projects. Maryland CZM staff believes that such an inventory would be useful, so that projects could easily be tracked.[2]

In 1988, Ocean City began a three-phase beach fill plan. In the first phase, the Army Corps of Engineers pumped sand from offshore sites onto the beach to restore beach width in the area to a uniform 67 meters, from an existing average of 40 meters. This phase required pumping approximately 1.7 million cubic meters of sand onto 8 miles of beach over a 5-month period. The cost of this phase was $13.4 million. The second phase of the fill project began in 1990 and involved building an 8-mile dune to protect the newly restored beach. This dune required 2.7 million cubic meters of sand and was completed in 1998. The final phase of the project is maintenance of dune and beach widths through further offshore dredging and sand placement. The original plan estimated that the area would need between 535,000 and 764,000 cubic meters of sand every four years for the next 50 years. However, severe storms near the end of phase two accelerated the rate of sand replenishment and the amount of sand available within the state's three mile offshore boundary is now depleted, so the state is currently studying new potential sand sources.[3] In addition, the recent severe storms seriously eroded the northern portion of Assateague Island, and the Army Corp of Engineers suggested an immediate fill project to stabilize the inlet mouth as well as annual maintenance projects for the area. A discussion (2003) of the history of shoreline alteration, subsequent beach erosion, beach fill and dune restoration at Assateague State Park and adjacent areas can be found here.

Beach fill is typically completed every four years in Ocean City. It includes the sand pumping, building dunes, planting sea grasses and erecting fencing. It was most recently completed in 2010 at a cost of about $9 million. For the 2010 project, the hopper dredge was located in Maryland waters three miles east of Ocean City and three miles south of the Delaware line. Beach replenishment for Ocean City falls under the purview of the Baltimore District of the Army Corps of Engineers.

Ocean City beaches are the only location in Maryland that has been nourished more than once in the last ten years.[4]

According to the 2001 CZM Assessment, previous urban development along the Atlantic coast in Ocean City and the historical lack of a long term sand management plan put the shoreline of Ocean City and Assateague Island at risk. Destruction of dune features during significant storm events may continue to jeopardize the beach and infrastructure in Ocean City. However, risk has been reduced due to the completion and subsequent maintenance of the Ocean City Beach Replenishment and Hurricane Protection Project noted above. The Project provides protection from wave attack and storm surges through the periodic re-fill of beach sand to the Ocean City beach and dune areas.

Construction of the Ocean City Inlet jetties in 1934 seriously impacted the shoreline of Assateague Island by diverting the littoral transport of sand from the island to the ebb shoal and the back bays. The construction of the Assateague Island Beach Fill Project and the Dune Fill Project at the Assateague State Park will provide some relief from erosion risk along the western shoreline of the Sinepuxent Bay. These projects were constructed in the spring of 2001. In addition, a sand bypass project, which will remove shoaling sand in the inlet area and transport it to Assateague Island, was to have begun during the fall of 2001.

The emergency, short-term protection of Assateague Island is underway with placement of sand materials along the northern shoreline of the island. The long-term fill of Assateague Island will provide relief from the effects of beach loss due to littoral movement and storm events. The proposed project will place approximately 150,000 cubic yards of sand onto the shoreline annually. This amount is approximately equal to the annual loss of sand due to natural processes.

Maryland typically monitors beach fill projects for performance after sand placement. Ocean City is monitored biannually, with the Army Corps of Engineers, the State, the County, and the City sharing the costs. Assateague is monitored twice per year.[5]

The Maryland Geological Survey (MGS) Coastal and Estuarine Geology Program provides several sources of information on or related to beach fill:

In 1992, Maryland Geological Survey, Delaware Geological Survey and the U.S. Minerals Management Service formed a 5-year cooperative study to explore and inventory potential offshore sand resources in federal waters off the Delmarva coast. In Maryland, our objectives were to: Identify potential sand deposits Determine which deposits are most likely to contain sand suitable for beach nourishment Estimate the amount of sand available in each deposit Beach nourishment projects demand that sand resources meet certain physical, economic, and environmental criteria. Sand used for replenishment must be of an optimum grain size. This optimum grain size is determined by complex factors such as the topography of the beach and surrounding offshore regions, and the amount of wave and wind energy available along the shoreline. These kinetic factors are specific for every stretch of shoreline. The grain size of native beach sands is in part a measure of these factors. Therefore, the optimum grain size for nourishment sands should approximate the grain size that naturally occurs on the beach. The volume of sand required for replenishment is also dependent on these factors. Fine sand is more rapidly redistributed by wind and wave energy than coarse sand. If sand placed on the beach is finer than the native sand, a larger replenishment volume will be required. Proximity of sand resources to the beach nourishment project is an important economic factor. Environmental factors include sand mining and transportation impacts, and the aesthetic appearance of the borrowed sand. Based on these and other considerations, The U.S. Army Corps studied these factors, and many others, and concluded that offshore sand deposits are the most desirable for beach nourishment projects in Maryland. The goal of the Offshore Sand Resources Study is to identify the quality and quantity of potential offshore sand deposits.

Information on beach fill projects in Maryland is also available from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Website at:

Information on beach fill in Maryland is also available through Western Carolina University's Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines. State-by-state information is available from the pull-down menu or by clicking on a state on the map on this page.

In 2017 the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA) announced a new online National Beach Nourishment Database – featuring data on projects comprised of nearly 1.5 billion cubic yards of sand placed in nearly 400 projects covering the continental U.S. coastline. In addition to the total volume and the number of projects, the database includes the number of nourishment events, the oldest project, the newest project, the known total cost, the total volume and the known length. The information is broken into both state statistics and those of local or regional projects. Every coastal continental state is included (so Alaska and Hawaii are still being compiled), and projects along the Great Lakes are similarly waiting to be added.

A report National Assessment of Beach Nourishment Requirements Associated with Accelerated Sea Level Rise (Leatherman, 1989) on EPA's Climate Change Impacts and Adapting to Climate Change websites notes that the cumulative cost of sand replenishment to protect Maryland's coast from a 50 to 200 cm rise in sea level by 2100 is estimated at $34 million-$213 million.

The Fiscal Year 2017 Civil Works Budget for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provides $4.62 billion in gross discretionary funding for the Civil Works program. This budget lists proposed projects and the associated budget justification by state.

State, Territory, and Commonwealth Beach Nourishment Programs: A National Overview (2000) is a report NOAA/OCRM that provides an overview of the problem of beach erosion, various means of addressing this problem, and discusses issues regarding the use of beach nourishment. Section 2 of the report provides an overview of state, territorial, and commonwealth coastal management policies regarding beach nourishment and attendant funding programs. Appendix B provides individual summaries of 33 beach nourishment programs and policies.


Bob Conkwright


  1. Katheleen Freeman, MDNR. Surfrider State of the Beach survey response, January 2003.
  2. Katheleen Freeman, MDNR. Surfrider State of the Beach survey response, January 2003.
  3. Maryland Geological Survey. "The Need for Sand in Ocean City, Maryland." Site visited January 5, 2000.
  4. Maryland Geological Survey. "The Need for Sand in Ocean City, Maryland." Site visited January 5, 2000.
  5. Katheleen Freeman, MDNR. Surfrider State of the Beach survey response. January 2003.

State of the Beach Report: Maryland
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