Charleston, S.C. --
On February 27, 2023, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Charleston District and the Town of Edisto Beach signed a Project Partnership Agreement for the construction of the Edisto Beach Coastal Storm Risk Management Project. The goal of the project is to reduce the risk of coastal storm damages to buildings and infrastructure in the Town of Edisto Beach, which the town has indicated is the most significant problem facing the study area now and over the next 50 years.
The loss of beachfront threatens to damage local buildings and infrastructure. If infrastructure is damaged in coastal storms, it requires resources to recover and rebuild. By reducing the risk of storm-related damages, these resources can be used elsewhere. These are referred to as National Economic Development Impacts. The Town of Edisto Beach also relies on its coastal resources to fuel the local economy and tourism.
In 2014, the final feasibility report and environmental impact study were completed and submitted to the USACE Chief of Engineers. The Chief’s Report was approved in September 2014. Construction funds were appropriated in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. The project team completed a Validation Study in 2022, which documented modifications to the project, and ensured that it was economically justified, environmentally sound, and feasible from an engineering perspective.
The recommended plan includes construction of a shoreline-facing dune with an elevation of 14ft to 15ft North American Vertical Datum 1988 (NAVD-88) that is approximately 15ft wide. In front of this dune will be a berm approximately 7ft elevation NAVD88 with a width of 75ft. This does not mean the dune would be 15ft tall from ground level; rather it is dependent upon the ground elevation at various locations on the beach. If the ground elevation is 10ft NAVD88, then the dune will be 5ft above the ground at that particular location. No berm would be necessary on the southern side of the project due to the existing beach profile. The extension and repair of select groins on the beach will also be included in the project.
The project would have numerous long term environmental benefits, including protection and enhancement of dune habitat for various fauna and flora, protection of shorebird nesting, foraging and roosting habitat, and creation of additional sea turtle nesting habitat. Specifically, the project would preserve approximately 13 acres of existing dry beach habitat, provide protection to approximately 22 acres of dune habitat and 14 acres of maritime forest, and result in a net increase of approximately 24 acres of sea turtle nesting habitat. Construction is currently estimated to take place outside of the turtle nesting season.
“We have been working closely together with the Town of Edisto to find a way to reduce the risks of coastal storms for residents. Reducing the threat of coastal storms is a top priority not only for Edisto, but for Corps of Engineers as well,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Johannes, district commander, U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers, Charleston District.
“The Town of Edisto Beach is very excited to move forward with our partnership with the United States Army Corps of Engineers. This is not a new endeavor; we have been working on this for a very long time. In working with the Corps, this partnership gives us the means to maintain our local beaches for many years to come. Today’s signing is the culmination of a great deal of work by both sides,” said W. Crawford Moore Jr., Mayor, Town of Edisto Beach.
The signing of the project partnership agreement will allow the Corps and Edisto Beach to complete final preconstruction, engineering and design and award a contract to complete initial construction, which is anticipated in 2025.