New ruling expected to save coastal towns cash on beach renourishment

New ruling expected to save coastal towns cash on beach renourishment

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A new ruling from the federal government could save coastal communities a lot of money on beach renourishment costs, according to a press release from Congressman David Rouzer.

The previous interpretation of the law prevented beaches from using sand from “inlet borrowing sites for coastal storm damage reduction projects," making towns seek sand further away from shore, increasing the cost of the project.

On Monday, a letter from the secretary of the interior re-examined the wording of the existing law and ruled that sand from places protected by the Coastal Barrier Resources Act could in fact be used.

“When it was suggested that maybe the offshore borrow pit, which is about a mile off the Carolina Beach pier, that same borrow pit that replenishes Kure Beach was going to be used for our purposes, understanding what the cost was and equally the impact on the environment-- that was really where our concern came in," said Carolina Beach Mayor Joe Benson. "Then, being responsible with tax dollars-- it didn’t make sense so this is a common sense pivot to stay and keep using the borrow pit that we are using now.”

“The Trump Administration is committed to protecting our coastlines and utilizing our available resources to restore, enhance or stabilize our beaches consistent with the law Congress wrote,” said Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. “Today’s notification clarified our understanding of the crystal clear direction provided by Congress decades ago.”

“This reversal in opinion is a return to common sense,” said Congressman Rouzer in the press release. “The 2016 objection to the use of these towns’ traditional sand borrow sites is the kind of bureaucratic red tape that costs taxpayer dollars with no benefit. I’m pleased we were able to work on a bipartisan basis to urge the Department to reverse this directive. This is a major win for taxpayers and our beaches.”

Beach towns that used the US Army Corp. of Engineers such as Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach saw their projects stalled and costs went up because of the previous restrictions.

Dave Connolly, Chief Public Affairs U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Wilmington District explains in an email to WECT, “As a result of the recent announcement, we do plan to re-consult with Fish and Wildlife Service, on application of the CBRA zones to our existing projects.”

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