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Posted 3/24/2017

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By Glenn Jeffries

How often do we head to the beach and stop at a gas station on the way to buy a drink and a lottery ticket? If you are like me, probably pretty often. The folks in Georgetown County must feel like they did just that and their lottery ticket turned out to be a winner!

After the damage from Hurricane Matthew, the timing couldn’t have been better for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District and Georgetown County to partner and provide sand to be placed on one of the area’s most popular beaches.

Very seldom does the material that is dredged from a navigation project meet the state’s criteria of suitability for beach front placement. Luckily, the material from the federal channel in Murrells Inlet is 90 percent sand, which matches the state criteria and the sand is currently being placed on a portion of the beach in Garden City. Some of the sand will also be placed behind the jetties at Huntington Beach State Park where significant erosion has occurred.

Another winning factor was that this type of disposal method, placing the sand on the beach, was the “least cost” disposal method with no significant environmental impacts, which is required for the navigation project to be allowed to dispose of the material in this manner.

The area where the Corps is placing the sand in Garden City covers a two mile stretch of the beach from the southern tip to Waccamaw Drive and will raise the beach approximately nine feet. This will provide a great deal of protection from Mother Nature for the people and infrastructure behind the beach.

The project began in January and will be finished in April when the turtles and tourists come out to play. Georgetown County is paying for the $6.3 million project, which was last dredged in 2002.

“There will be some inconveniences for a five to six month period with noise, traffic and smell,” said Sel Hemingway, Georgetown County Administrator, at a public meeting that was held before the project began. “But for all the benefits that are going to last for 10 years or so, it is definitely well worth it.”

If you haven’t seen sand being pumped onto a beach, you still have time to head out and see the project in action. It is a very interesting process to see the material coming out of the big pipes on the beach. Just don’t forget to stop and get a lottery ticket on your way.

In case you don’t get out there, you can try a “second-chance” lottery ticket because the next issue will feature a follow up story and show the work that was done.