Damaged Delaware beaches face long restoration process

The state's recently completed nourishment project in Pickering Beach, showing a wide beach berm and newly planted beach grass, largely held its ground and kept the storm from causing damage further inland. (DNREC photo)

The state's recently completed nourishment project in Pickering Beach, showing a wide beach berm and newly planted beach grass, largely held its ground and kept the storm from causing damage further inland. (DNREC photo)

Spring storms have caused significant sand loss for some Delaware beaches, especially in hardest hit South Bethany.

The state Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is starting work this week on repairing dune fencing and re-grading dune crossings so visitors can walk to the water.

“Our shoreline team will be hard at it for the foreseeable future on beach restoration priorities that this storm handed us,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “While restoring the beaches will not be instant nor easy, we are confident of surmounting the challenge ahead. We’re working on making the state’s beaches accessible and in shape for the summer.”

The state had recently finished beach nourishment along some of the beaches along the Delaware Bay including Pickering Beach, Kitts Hummock, Bowers, South Bowers, and Slaughter Beach communities. The effort replaces sand lost to erosion. That project used approximately 52,650 cubic yards of sand – enough to fill almost 11 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

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State environmental officials say that sand largely held its ground and kept the storm from causing damage further inland.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware toured some of the damaged areas in South Bethany on Monday. He pointed to the Water Resources Development Act he recently introduced that would help the state’s beaches recover from storms.

“[The] Water Resources Development Act of 2022, bipartisan legislation that will help give Delaware the ability to recover from future storms like this,” Carper said. “This bill will be critical to help protect our communities and keep our beaches beautiful and accessible to all.”

The bill would give the Army Corps of Engineers emergency authority to restore beaches in the aftermath of storms and require the federal government to pay 90% of the costs of nourishing beaches along the bay.

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