Ocean City Today

Dalkiewicz offers ‘food for thought’

Surf Report
By Dave Dalkiewicz | Dec 14, 2017

(Dec. 15, 2017) It is finished. Almost sounds biblical, doesn’t it?

The reference is to the latest round of beach replenishment.

As of this writing, I can still see some equipment south of my perch at 35th Street and the ocean, but the work of pumping sand onto the beach has been completed. Thankfully, the effect on the surf is not nearly as bad as first feared.

Maybe I’ve gotten so use to how it is verses how it use to be that there’s been a certain conditioning. Like a new normal. Like a child that’s been so mistreated any amount of love is regarded as Christmas morning, the Fourth of July, or downtown Saturday night.

Now I know that the powers that be are not deliberately plotting to create bad surfing conditions or dangerous shorebreak for swimmers or deplete taxpayer’s coffers or the demise of various and sundry sealife.

Making critical decisions such as these resulting in heavy consequence and massive financial outlay can’t be easy. The surrounding controversy makes it all the more difficult as well.

Most times, as in many decisions in government, society, and life in general, it comes down to a lesser of evils. Something has got to give. Something has to be done. But, as we’ve recently alluded to, there are possible other ways of accomplishing the same, or at least similar, objectives.

Those of you who have followed these columns recently have heard of the artificial reef idea.

After the shock of the “spew view” directly in the backyard last week, I was in touch with a lot of folks, seeking a reaction.

I’m no social media wizard but if Donald Trump can use Twitter, well I seem to be able to utilize the texting mode. There was quite a few interesting comments, a few of which I hadn’t even thought of.

Jetties or groins; specifically the extension of. Both are hard perpendicular structures that extend out from the beach. The difference between the two is that a jetty will generally border an inlet and a groin will extend out from any place on the beach.

Both can be made of wood, rock, concrete, or metal and even be augmented with other relatively stable items such as large sandbags. There are many such structures in Ocean City, except that the vast majority of them are buried under the sand; the sand that has come from the beach replenishment program.

Back in the day of exposed groins, the surf was much, much better than it is now. The structures would do their job of trapping sand from the littoral drift of the water moving sand from north to south or south to north. This would also help to “stabilize” sandbars and thus help the surf.

The trouble is, the groins didn’t do enough, thus the beach replenishment program. But what if these existing groins were extended or even new ones created? There’s possibility of sand retention in a big way.

As might be expected, there’s controversy surrounding this type of beach alteration as there is with every method. They rob sand from downstream, they’re too disruptive of the natural environment, there’s too much possibility of injury to beach patrons and ocean users.

To all of this, former Mayor Harry Kelly, complete with hard hat, would declare “Bully!” as his picture was taken sitting upon a bulldozer active in the construction of a new groin. Mayor Kelly was nothing if not colorful.

What of the cost? Reports that I’m aware of put the price of the recently completed beach replenishment at $12.7 million to $15 million. How many substantial lengthy groins could be had for that kind of money? And, would they have to be built every four years or so assuming some level of success?

Just tossing it out there.  Just a little food for thought.

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

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.