Beach renourishment going as planned

By Christy Hutchings - bio | email

TYBEE ISLAND, GA (WTOC) - it's not exactly beach season, but if you've been to Tybee Island lately you probably noticed some erosion. It's getting plenty of attention, but beach experts say it's exactly what they expected after last year's renourishment.

The drop off is about a foot and a half, our beach being washed away in the ocean. But those who live on Tybee will tell you that everything is normal.

"This is very much normal for this time of year," said Sandy Brewer, owner of Sandy's by the Shore on Tybee.

Brewer says there's nothing to fear, this drop off doesn't mean the beach renourishment the city completed last December isn't working. "It's working well," said Brewer. "I just hope they are getting prepared for the next time, which will be several years away."

Tybee will have to renourish the beach again, but that's no secret. The beach renourishment only lasts for about eight years, so they still have about another seven years before the city has to go through the process again.

Clark Alexander, a professor at the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography said, "The reason the sand is eroding is because there's enough energy to move it away. If you pump new sand on the beach it's going to start eroding away, and basically you are just re-setting the erosion clock every time you renourish it."

Alexander checked out the beach last week, and doesn't see any problems. He says if Tybee wants to continue having beaches people want to come and visit, then they will have to keep re nourishing the beach because mother-nature can't undo what man has done.

"Unfortunately because we need to move large ships in and out of our harbor we've dug a very deep channel, and that channel intercepts that sand, and so that sand is being trapped during the annual maintenance of the dredging," said Alexander.

So the sand that would be coming from Hilton Head is getting trapped, leaving Tybee to fend for itself.

WTOC also spoke with the Army Corp of Engineers who agree the erosion on Tybee is nothing surprising. They say it's eroding at the speed they thought it would. They don't foresee any problems.

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