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Beach Renourishment in Progress

The beach across the street is currently undergoing a renourishment effort to replenish sand washed away by storms and natural erosion. The beach is still open during this effort…only about 100 yard stretches are closed for a day or so at a time. This happens once every 6-7 years as part of a fifty year long federal government project.

This photo shows my favorite part of this process. That large tripod thing is actually a vehicle with three large tires. Somebody climbs a ladder to the top and drives this along the beach and out several hundred yards into the ocean to move sections of pipe. I’ve asked the family for one for Christmas. I think it would be fun to drive the kids to school up the river!

I’ve copied some information below from this website that shows how the process works: http://www.brevardcounty.us/environmental_management/bbbb_nsrp_process.cfm

Hopper Dredges

Hopper dredges move slowly over the borrow area (in this case, Canaveral Shoals) pulling two drag arms that suck sand from the ocean floor and temporarily store it in the ship’s hull—the “hopper.” When full, the ship sets course to the beach construction area, hooks to a pipe running ashore, and then pumps the sand from its hopper to the beach.

Pipeline on the Beach

During construction, a pipeline ran from offshore to a landing point on the beach. Hopper dredges pumped their cargos of sand through the pipeline to widen the beach at the landing point. Beach renourishment then proceeded to the north or south of the landing point by adding lengths of pipe along the beach.

Eventually, the direction of renourishment would be “flipped” from north to south or south to north, while the landing pipeline itself remained stationary. It would then be detached and relocated to the next landing point. During this process, temporary sand ramps were maintained over the pipeline at regular intervals to provide safe public access to the ocean and newly widened beach.

Crews worked around the clock, producing noise from engines and safety backup alarms, and using lights from dusk until dawn. The small, active construction area affected by the sounds and lights typically progressed past individual properties in 48 hours or less. On average, the construction progressed over 500 feet per day along the beach. Safety backup alarms were exempt from all local noise ordinances.

As the project progressed, bulldozers, front-end loaders, and other necessary construction equipment could be seen engaged in the creation of a smooth, wide beach using the new sand as it is was pumped ashore.

The new beach sand was discharged onto the beach through the pipeline in a powerful jet of water.

The area immediately surrounding the open, working end of the pipeline was closed for public safety while construction was underway. It was important to stay well clear of this operation. The off-limits area moved an average of 500 feet per day and a maximum of 1200 feet per day as the project progressed along the beach. Safety officers were posted to guard this area at all times.

Equilibration

Beach width increases as sand is added to the shoreline. As time passes, waves and currents shift some of the newly-added sand from the extra-wide beach to sand bars in the surf zone. This process is known as “equilibration.” Eventually, about 2/3 of the new material will be underwater, supporting the wider dry beach much as a foundation supports a house. Sand bars migrate onto the beach during the summer, increasing beach width, only to return offshore as a result of winter storm erosion. This fluctuation is a natural beach process restored by the renourishment project. Since this is a 50 year project, the beach will continue to be renourished every 6 years or as needed. This renourishment interval will be determined by the frequency and severity of storms that impact Brevard County over the 50 years.

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