The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) has commissioned a study to explore the economic benefits of beach nourishment and to begin to develop new approaches to funding projects needed to maintain Delaware’s shorelines.
This will be a public process, with public meetings to present information to Delaware residents and gather their input.
Delaware’s beaches and dunes protect inland public and private infrastructure, including houses and roads, from wave action that causes erosion during coastal storms.
The Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay beaches and dunes also provide recreational opportunities and habitat to an array of plants and animals.
Beach erosion occurs in places where nature moves sand off of the beaches. Beach nourishment projects do not change the forces of nature that cause erosion, but they restore the sand that erosion moves away from the beach.
By restoring that eroded sand, we can maintain a beach and dune system that is wide and tall enough to protect communities, infrastructure and wildlife habitat from coastal storms.
To get ahead of erosion, the department works on numerous projects every year to nourish dunes and beaches.
Beach nourishment has been happening in Delaware since the 1950s. Beach nourishment projects cost-shared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and DNREC infused enormous volumes of sand into five beach locations – Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach, South Bethany and Fenwick Island. Delaware Bay Beaches are also nourished.
The department pays for beach nourishment using funds generated by the state accommodations tax – DNREC receives one-eighth of the funds raised by that tax specifically for shoreline management – and funds appropriated for Shoreline and Waterway Management by the Delaware General Assembly.
Due to rising demands and costs associated with beach nourishment, in the future DNREC will likely struggle to be able to sustain the current level of beach nourishment at current levels of funding.
Because local and non-local entities benefit from beach nourishment, along with the state as a whole, the department has commissioned a study to examine just how these benefits are distributed.
The study will develop cost share ratios, based on these benefits, to be presented to policy makers as possible avenues for future cost-sharing.
For more information, please contact Sarah Bouboulis, of the DNREC Shoreline and Waterway Management Section, at 302-739-9921.