Ocean City Today

Old ideas may provide new benefits

By Dave Dalkiewicz | Apr 05, 2018



(April 6, 2018) Last month’s nor’easter activity made cause for copious beach erosion.

Evidence is apparent with special regard to jetty exposure. The fall’s sand pumping beach replenishment covered most any jetty in town. Recent beach erosion laid them bare once again.

There’s a long standing tradition in this area of both beach replenishment and jetties. Most people think of jetties as an unknown, the vast majority of them covered by sand due to the beach replenishment program. Each has a history with both having reason for beach and sand retention.

Maybe the time has come to reconsider a jetty program, regarding beach replenishment, as opposed to sand pumping. The idea of a substantial jetty or series of them could function as a more permanent beach replenishment as well as creating a more quality wave for surfing.

The bottom line for sand pumping as beach replenishment is that there isn’t any bottom line. It’s a never ending cycle of sand pumping and erosion, sand pumping and erosion.

In pre-sand pumping days, jetties or groins were the solution made famous by then Mayor Harry Kelley, hard hat adorned, sitting on top of a bulldozer posing for the cameras.

No environmentalist was to get in his way. Saving the town was the utmost concern. I suspect the environmental issues of beach replenishment have long since been dealt with.

The tax base, commerce, summer vacations and longtime family gatherings will be maintained. This sandbar isn’t going anywhere; not if we can help it. But again, we are left with the never ending cycle of sand pumping and erosion, sand pumping and erosion. Has the time come to re-visit the jetty/groin idea?

When the Sea Colony complex, just south of Bethany Beach, Delaware, was being built a large steel groin was constructed to facilitate an outfall pipe laid out to sea from the beach.

This created a remarkably good wave until the groin was subsequently removed.

In a beach environment sand is always moving. Subtle at times, as in a mere tide change, or more dramatically, as in the recent multiple nor’easters.

The idea, of course, is to keep it from all washing away or to at least slow it down.

One of the arguments against groins has been that it robs sand from downstream. To counter that logic a north to south longshore current in winter months would be equalized by a south to north longshore current in summer months with the groin trapping sand on either side.

Is there an ideal length for a groin? Is there an ideal height? Should they be constructed in a perpendicular direction or angled? Or maybe, a combination of the two? How many are needed and how far apart should they be? What’s the best material to build them with?

Sand pumping and erosion, and the subsequent endless associated costs. Maybe it is time to revisit some of these “old” ideas. Recent technologies and new thought can make some of these shelved notions viable again. It’s pretty safe to say that action will continue, new or old, to retain and maintain, and even build anew.

It’s been a never ending battle, at least for the last 30 years of so. Seems as though it would be a good idea to have some sort of solution to alleviate the never ending cycle, not to mention the mountains of money that these projects demand.

Hopefully all of this activity will conspire to not only produce a continued, good quality beach but also good quality surf!

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


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