ActivePaper Archive Beach Nourishment Called A Big Success - Southampton Press - Eastern Edition, 9/1/2016

Beach Nourishment Called A Big Success

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Looking west from Town Line Road to Sagaponack on Monday afternoon. DANA SHAW

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Looking west from Town Line Road in mid-September 2013, prior to the beach nourishment project. Right, a similar aerial view in late May 2014, after the beach nourishment project. PRESS FILE

There is now more sand along Sagaponack, Bridgehampton and Water Mill ocean beaches than when a $26 million beach nourishment project was first completed there almost three years ago.

A 2016 annual beach monitoring update completed in July showed that there is now more than 310,000 cubic yards of additional sand in the dunes of the project area—and Southampton Town officials say those fortified dunes are providing increased protection to the shoreline.

Six miles of beaches extending from Flying Point Road to Townline Road underwent a four-month restoration project from October 2013 to February 2014, when more than 2.5 million cubic yards of sand was dredged from a mile offshore and deposited on the beaches. The $26 million effort widened the beaches by 150 feet and was paid for primarily through special taxing districts, which included the 125 residents who own property along the oceanfront.

“Beaches are not regularthey’re episodic,” said Aram Terchunian, a coastal geologist and founder of First Coastal Corporation, which worked on replenishing the sand. “We’re very proud, pleased and humbled by the ongoing success of this project,” he said this week.

According to a press release from Southampton Town, the project was first administered for two specially created beach erosion control districts in Sagaponack, Bridgehampton and Water Mill. The districts are led by advisory committees, set their own tax rates, and decide where they would like to spend their money.

The July analysis—conducted to monitor the original nourishment project’s status—was engineered by Coastal Science and Engineering of South Carolina and directed by Mr. Terchunian’s Westhampton Beach-based company, First Coastal. The analysis showed that there is now more than 100 percent of the sand that was originally placed on the beaches.

In designing the project, engineers expected normal erosion to occur, with losses of about 120,000 cubic yards of sand per year—but that has not been the case. Mr. Terchunian credited the project’s performance to the fact that the six-mile area was relatively long, as well as to minimal storm action and to the size of the grains of sand that had been used for the project.

“The closer you can match the sand, the more likely it’s going to act like the natural beach,” he said. “Then the length of the project will cube its longevity. The more you have a coherent structure along a stretch of beach, the more resilient it is.” Jeff Lignelli of the Bridgehampton-Water Mill Beach Erosion District Advisory Board agreed, noting that the beach is now wider than three years ago, and that the dunes are continuing to grow.

“Everyone will benefit in the long run,” he said. “If you look at our environment, the piping plovers have done well, beach vegetation has grown meaningfully, beaches are wide for all people enjoying the beach and it helps real estate values, which helps the school and town tax base.”

Mr. Terchunian said engineers will continue to monitor sand levels each year to see how hurricane seasons affect the coast.