Ocean City Today

Dalkiewicz discusses Ocean City’s beach replenishment

Surf Report
By Dave Dalkiewicz | Dec 07, 2017

(Dec. 8, 2017) Beach pumping, renourishment, replenishment, however you’d like to term it, continues on, soon to be completed, certainly before the end of the year.

Going no farther south than the northern end of the Boardwalk, as of this writing, the progress is to the streets of the lower 30’s with the “finish line” at 27th Street.

I check out the ocean and surf on a daily basis typically at 35th Street right behind Ocean Atlantic Surf Shop. Being well aware of this sand pumping project, it really hit home the other day.

It wasn’t even necessary to reach the top of the dune to observe the spew of wet sand pouring out of the almost vertical pipe. I’d say it was at least a minor shock.

The shaking ground was quite evident when multiple bulldozers pushed the pumped sand into place.  Even nearby neighbors could feel their house shake as the process continued sort of like a minor local earthquake. Quickly I checked out some other spots to provide a comparison.

From the base of the east facing dune to the edge of the water at high tide, roughly 150 horizontal feet of sand had been added. This as well as a vertical measure of about 6 to 24 inches made for quite an addition of sand to the beach. A lot to speak of no matter how it was measured.

What usually happens is that all of this extra sand getting placed and pushed toward the ocean makes a new border line, if you will, between land and water, basically making whatever sandbar that’s there, under the water, ineffective.

If this new border was made more gradual and tapered the effect on how the surf breaks, would be much less dramatic. The “border” is not static, though, and is subject to change from the minute it’s finished. Being so dynamic it can change as it’s being made just due to differences in high and low tides, never mind swell and storm activity.

I’m not a fan of this method of protecting our beaches and town. That’s no secret. There are quite a few factors involved, one of the biggest being that of swimming danger.

A recently completed study by Ocean City Beach Patrol Sgt. Jamie Falcon addresses this issue. It’s a thesis required for Jamie as a Ph.D. candidate.

Empirical, scientific study as opposed to opinion although years of observation, experience and participation can go a long way as well. Information on this study can be found on the Internet as well as an article regarding a presentation in the Nov. 2 issue of this newspaper.

Ironically, despite all of this seeming negativity, I am feeling that there might be some light at the end of this tunnel. Time was spent on sections of the beach after their completion and the beach was more flat and tapered than I recall after past pumping, replenishment projects.

Gone was the squared-off end of sand to water divide. My thought was that maybe things weren’t so bad after all. Plus, in this time frame of winter’s start, the nor’easter factor becomes more apparent.

Hurricanes usually get the most fanfare and publicity but a more typical nor’easter can be just as dramatic if not more so.

There’s almost a guarantee of a wholesale change by springtime with a possibility much sooner than that. Hope springs eternal.

Stay tuned. These projects are subject to massive change and effect. Updates on this issue are almost assured, with plenty of subject matter for future columns.

Dave Dalkiewicz is the owner of Ocean Atlantic Surf Shop in Ocean City.

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