Southern Shores and Beach Nourishment

From Spencer Rogers presentation: a top ten need to know nourishment list.
From Spencer Rogers presentation: a top ten need to know nourishment list.

Is Southern Shores moving toward nourishment for its beaches?

The Town Council has not taken a vote yet, but if public sentiment is any indication, about a half mile of beach on the southern end of the town where it borders on Kitty Hawk will be nourished.

That is the sentiment that seemed to emerge from an informational forum the town held at the Hilton Garden Inn on Tuesday evening.

The forum consisted of five speakers and a public comment period. Although there was some opposition to from the audience, most of the speakers favored the idea.

With historically stable beaches, Southern Shores chose not to participate in the intra-county plan to nourish beaches in Duck, Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills. However, over the past seven years, the shoreline in front of Pelican Watch has retreated almost 120’ and properties in the subdivision are threatened.

Although there had been concern about the beach in that area, Hurricane Matthew caused so much loss of dune and beach, residents felt something had to be done.

Hoping to Piggyback

What Southern Shores is hoping to do is piggyback on the already planned project in Kitty Hawk. Slated to begin in June, if Southern Shores does vote to proceed and is able to get the necessary permits, the cost savings would be huge.

The savings would be realized because equipment is already in place and the amount of additional sand that would have to be pumped onto the beach is relatively minor. The current plan calls for a taper area extending into Southern Shores. Additional sand would widen the beach in the taper area and move the taper north.

What the Experts Said

The speakers were four scientists, Spencer Rogers of Sea Grant, Reide Corbett for the Coastal Studies Institute, Tim Kana of Coastal Studies Engineering and Ken Wilson from Coastal Planning & Engineering. Former Nags Head Mayor Bob Oakes was also on hand to discuss the town’s experience with nourishment. Nags Head is the only town on the Outer Banks that has nourished its beaches.

The consensus among the speakers was that beach nourishment is an effective mitigation tool for the protection of shorelines, but it is not a one size fits all solution.

The scientists did address the situation at Pelican Watch directly, indicating beach nourishment would give at least a temporary reprieve from the encroaching ocean. However, there was also agreement that longer term studies and observations would have to be done to determine if nourishment was a long term solution.

The forum was extremely well attended with over 250 members of the public on hand.