SC - With federal funds for repairs, island’s beach still faces challenges
( PAWLEYS ISLAND) The Army Corps of Engineers will pump up to 200,000 cubic yards of offshore sand onto the south end of Pawleys Island next winter as part of a $14 million project to repair damage from Hurricane Ian.
The agency’s announcement last week fulfilled a promise town officials made when they agreed to let the Corps participate in the beach renourishment project that they initiated in 2019.
“It’s a good thing we got in the program,” Mayor Brian Henry said. “We wouldn’t have seen that if we hadn’t got in the program.”
But the federally-funded project is almost certain to require that the town obtain easements from three property owners who have challenged the renourishment in court. The Corps is working with the town on the easements.
“We would like to have that. It’s going to be a challenge,” said Jeff Livasy, chief of civil works for the Charleston District.
It is also likely to face a challenge from property owners at Prince George who say the town’s renourishment caused erosion on their beachfront.
The town completed a renourishment project in March 2020 that placed 1.1 million cubic yards of sand on about 3 miles of beach. It paid for the $14.8 million project with funds it had accumulated from a local accommodations tax, a $5.6 million state grant and a $2.8 million loan. Although the Corps had agreed to undertake renourishment on 1.2 miles of beach on the south end, the town decided to move ahead on its own rather than risk a delay.
After the sand was in place, the Corps agreed to fund $764,000 in beach grass and sand fence on the southern portion of the island, making that a federal project for future repairs and maintenance.
“It was very fortunate with the timing,” Livasy said.
The plants and fencing were installed last March. Hurricane Ian made landfall on North Island on Sept. 30. There was still one more application of fertilizer planned for the beach grass, Livasy noted.
Instead, the Corps had a survey crew on the south end a few days after the storm to measure how much sand had been lost.
“There was a lot of impact even though it was only Category 1,” Livasy said.
Over half the sand in the 2019-20 renourishment project was placed on the southern end of the island. That area is eligible for federal funding because of the public beach access provided at the south end parking lot and streets in the Birds Nest section.