Like many coastal communities, Wrightsville Beach invests in beach renourishment programs about every four years. They replace sand washed away by storms, protect oceanfront property, and support their largest industry, tourism.
Beach renourishment is a part of Wrightsville Beach’s shoreline engineering. Every four years or so, this process of reckoning with nature and stabilizing the unstable must occur to attenuate the erosion caused from storm damage.
Erosion is a natural response to storm activity. During storms, sand from the visible beach submerges to form sand bars that protect the beach. Submersion is only part of the cycle. During calm weather smaller waves return sand from bars to the visible beach surface in a process called accretion.
The first nourishment project in the United States was at Coney Island, New York in 1922 and 1923. It is now a common shore protection measure used by public and private entities.
Beach renourishment is a multi-part endeavor. Essentially a specially equipped rig is stationed next to the beach undergoing the renourishment process, sucking sand up from the ocean floor and into pipes laid out all the way up the beach. Bulldozers await the tunneling sand out the other end of the pipe, pushing it out toward the crashing waves. This effect widens the beach.
Gracie, the Blockade Runner Beach Kitty, surveys and patrols the 2018 Beach Renourishment.
A wider beach reduces storm damage to coastal structures.
The rig stationed at the South End of Wrightsville Beach sucks sand up from the ocean floor.