By Jennifer Tuohy, Island Eye News Editor
The Isle of Palms held an emergency council meeting on Dec. 11 to discuss an urgent recommendation from the engineers working on the island’s beach renourishment project.
They were advising a shift of the project’s harvest areas from an onshore beach area between 53rd and 56th avenues to the rapidly approaching shoal, which is located just offshore between the two threatened areas along the island’s north eastern edge.
Council voted 8 to 1 to approve the request for $132,000 from the project’s contingency fund to build a sand bridge between the beach and the slowly approaching shoal. This bridge will allow heavy equipment to go out and harvest sand at very low tides, and will hopefully fulfill the project’s aim of harvesting 250,000 cubic yards of sand and placing it in front of threatened structures by the end of February. Sand to build the bridge will come from the previous harvest area.
Although the shoal had always been the hoped-for harvest area, when the project began it wasn’t close enough to harvest. However, since the project started on Nov. 4 the shoal has not only progressed but has begun building up. This accretion is actually creating a break, causing an acceleration in the erosion on the areas either side of the shoal, which are the target of the renourishment project. This development makes harvesting from the shoal more urgent.
Additionally, residents near the first harvest area between 53rd and 56th had begun to express concern about portions of their beach being dug up and carried away, especially as the beach there had recently (2008) been renourished itself.
“It’s a dynamic situation, it’s the ocean,” Linda Tucker, IOP City Administrator, said. “We are trying to maximize the benefit from this event, and sometimes you’ve got to stop and reassess.”
Construction on the sand bridge began on Dec. 13. For updates on the progress of the Shoal Management Project visit www.iop.net/departments/2008beachrenourishmentproject.aspx.