Concerns About Beach Replenishment

By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Bradley Beach. May 24, 2013

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Surfers in the ocean at Bradley Beach (photo by Phil Gregory)

A $100 million project to replenish New Jersey beaches from Sea Bright to Manasquan is intended to protect roads and other infrastructure from future storm damage.

There are some concerns about the project.

John Weber is the Mid-Atlantic regional manager of the Surfrider Foundation. He says widening the beaches could alter the conditions for surfing and make it hazardous for swimmers.

 “You can imagine if you build the beach out seaward towards the ocean, three or four hundred feet, that’s deeper water out there. So now the water’s edge is meeting the sand much closer to deep water. You could take two steps off the beach, and you’re in water up to your neck. That could be dangerous for kids, seniors, whatever.”

Weber says adding a lot of sand to the beach could mean the loss of sandbars.

“Any incoming wave energy is breaking right onto that beach and that can be dangerous. It’s called the shore break and even a two or three foot shore break could knock down and adult whereas right now we have a sandbar and the waves break farther offshore.”

New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel says the beach replenishment projects can harm marine life.

 “One of the concerns is that they scour the bottom of the ocean and pump all the sand back up. What it does it actually kills all the little fish eggs and plankton and small fish in that process. So it turns the ocean bottom basically into a desert.”

Jon Miller is a coastal engineer at Stevens Institute of Technology. He says right after a beach replenishment project the contour of the beach is artificially steep, but the waves will eventually return it to its natural slope.

 “That will take basically until the first big storm or two comes. So it really depends on when they finish the project and when that next storm occurs.”


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