State of the Beach/State Reports/PA/Beach Fill

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Pennsylvania Ratings
Indicator Type Information Status
Beach Access54
Water Quality54
Beach Erosion9-
Erosion Response-7
Beach Fill4-
Shoreline Structures5 2
Beach Ecology2-
Surfing Areas14
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 commonwealth does have enforceable and encouragement policies regarding beach nourishment.

Policy Citation and Description

PA Coastal Zone Management Program. Procedures for Managing the Effects of Erosion. Techniques, such as beach nourishment and sand pumping, are nonstructural alternatives that attempt to produce a satisfactory response in erosion reduction. Both procedures involve high annual costs, destroy the natural regimen and may have a severe impact on aquatic life. Such techniques are discouraged. However, in cases where structural alternatives are too costly in protecting a public facility or lands of high value, these non-structural techniques may have to be considered.

Related Policies

Near Shore Sand Mining Regulations

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Coastal Zone Management Program. Guidance Document - March 31, 1999. Policy 2.1 Dredging and Spoil Disposal/Regulation. Ensures that the recovery of commercially valuable sand and gravel in the coastal zones will be regulated.

In addition, the Dam Safety and Encroachment Act 32 P.S. §693.1, the Clean Streams Law, 3 P.S. §691.1, and the Fish and Boat Act, 30 P.S. §200, protect the Commonwealth’s submerged lands, water quality, and the commercial use of sand and gravel mined from Commonwealth’s waters.

Dredge and Fill Regulations

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Coastal Zone Management Program. Guidance Document - March 31, 1999. Policy 2.1 Dredging and Spoil Disposal/Regulation. Ensures that dredging and spoil disposal in the coastal zones will be regulated. Permits are required for activities in navigable water between the high and low water marks. Submerged lands License are required below low water marks. Permit conditions require that for dredging stream mouths, appropriate materials must be placed along the shoreline to maintain littoral processes. Groin construction permits require pre-filling of the updrift side, top prevent starvation and erosion of downdrift beaches.

Public Access Regulations

There is a public right of lateral access along the shoreline. In several instances, local zoning ordinances require public access to the shoreline for new construction or substantial improvement. Permits for groins are conditioned to maintain lateral access.

Beach Nourishment Funding Program

There is state funding for beach nourishment on a case by case basis

Amount of State Funding

State funding for beach nourishment has generally been as an annual capital expenditure, based on cost-share requirements, or a line-item expenditure for mitigation of damage to the beach material littoral drift system.

Cost Share Requirements



The report Summary of Beach Nourishment Activity Along the Great Lakes' Shoreline 1955-1996 lists 28 beach nourishment projects along Pennsylvania's Lake Erie shoreline between 1955 and 1996. All of these projects were at Presque Isle State Park. The report lists beach location, date, funding type, volume, length, and cost for each project.

Here are fact sheets for the Presque Isle Regional Sediment Management Project and Presque Isle Shoreline Erosion Control Project.

Also see this newspaper article on Presque Isle State Park beach fill projects.

The latest $2.6 million project was completed in August 2012.

The PCZMP successfully applied interstate consistency review procedures to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ federal maintenance dredging activity in Conneaut Harbor, Ohio. This 2004 project was basically the same as a prior 1999 project, which proposed to dredge both the federal commercial and municipal access navigation channels. Prevailing west to east littoral drift along this section of Lake Erie shoreline would normally transport approximately 10,000 cubic yards of sands and gravels along the shoreline from Ohio to Pennsylvania. Conneaut Harbor extends out into the lake one mile, occupies 650 acres of submerged lands, and blocks littoral material moving towards Pennsylvania. Approximately 500,000 cubic yards of beach quality sands and gravels are trapped along the updrift side of the western breakwall, and another 1,000,000 cubic yards of similar beach suitable materials are trapped inside the Harbor, creating a 70-acre exposed shoal in the western basin. When the project originally called for disposal of all suitable dredged material in deeper water (approximately 13 feet), the coastal program objected. The PCZMP contains policies addressing coastal hazards and dredging; federal consistency provisions require that federal activities such as this be consistent with the policies of the state program. It also provides for aspects of interstate jurisdiction, which in this case was a federal activity occurring in Ohio that had reasonably foreseeable negative effects on coastal resources in Pennsylvania. As the result of actions by the PCZMP, a letter of agreement between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Commonwealth provided that approximately 50,000 cubic yards of trapped sands and gravels from the municipal access channel and municipal pier area, suitable for onshore disposal, will be placed along the shoreline east of the harbor in water no more than four feet in depth.

Also see U.S. Army Corps of Engineers fact sheets on Erie Harbor and Ashtabula Harbor.

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.

State of the Beach Report: Pennsylvania
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