Georgetown County hit the jackpot when dredged material from the Charleston District’s navigation project in Murrells Inlet was able to be placed on Garden City Beach earlier this year. The material met the state’s criteria of suitability for beach front placement by being 90 percent sand and was the least-cost disposal method with no significant environmental impacts. Each of these aspects are required for material from the navigation project to be disposed of in this manner, so it was like Georgetown County hit the Powerball in the South Carolina Lottery.
The Garden City Beach material placement was completed in March after damage was sustained from Hurricane Matthew. The 519,000 cubic yards of material covered a two mile stretch of the beach from the southern tip to Waccamaw Drive and raised the beach approximately nine feet, providing protection for the infrastructure behind the shoreline.
In April, 70,000 cubic yards of the material, or the equivalent of 7,000 dump trucks, was placed on the backside of Huntington Beach State Park’s southern jetty, which was also impacted by Hurricane Matthew, as well as Hurricane Joaquin. This work will help stabilize any additional impacts from future storms and reduce future maintenance costs for the federal government.
Huntington Beach State Park’s southern jetty has become more and more exposed by the elements in the last 20 years. Take a look at overhead imagery from 1999 and 2016 and it will look virtually identical. The park received sand in 2003, but since then has continued to wash away to the point that the back side of the jetty was almost exposed.
“If that had happened, the beach would have been washed away from behind and the jetty could have been structurally undermined,” said Jeremy Johnson, project designer. “We’ve seen significant erosion over the years, especially after Hurricane Matthew, so this is a much-needed fix.”
At a public meeting before the project began, some residents were concerned about the issues of noise, traffic, smell and shell fish bed disturbances affecting the area but the District had many provisions in place to reduce the inconveniences to the public. Sel Hemingway, Georgetown County Administrator, reminded folks, “For all the benefits that are going to last for 10 years or so, it is definitely well worth any of this for the short term.” Very few complaints were received.
On their way to the beach this summer, Georgetown County folks ought to stop at a gas station, get a nice cold drink and buy a lottery ticket to see if their winning streak is still running strong!