For thousands of years, the forces of wind, water, storms, sea level changes, and other natural processes have moved the sediments that shape and reshape our coastlines and beaches. These sediments, which range from fine, white sand to coarse gravel and cobblestones, continuously build up, or accrete, only to drift away, or erode, again and again over time in complex and sometimes unpredictable ways. Wind, tides, currents, and waves constantly keep sediment on the move to build up and wear down natural features such as bluffs, dunes, beaches, sand bars, and inlets. Under normal conditions, wind shapes the dry beach and its dunes while tides, currents, and waves shape the “wet” part of the beach. It is natural for hurricanes and coastal storms – which move huge volumes of sediment through the system – to erode beaches.
Charleston District has been involved in coastal storm risk management since the 1980s. The goal of storm risk management projects is to reduce the amount of damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure caused by coastal erosion from storm events. There are many ways to provide coastal storm risk management – from breakwater installation to sea walls to beach nourishment.
Within South Carolina, Myrtle Beach and Folly Beach both have Coastal Storm Risk Management projects in place that utilize beach nourishment as the mechanism for providing damage reduction. The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2007 authorized a project for the southern end of Pawleys Island. The District is currently in our last year of study for Edisto Island. In order for a beach area to be eligible for the USACE’s storm damage reduction program, it must provide public beach access every one half mile and provide for adequate parking to support the use of the public access areas.