Coastal towns could see less cost with proposed dredging rules

Published: Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 12:38 PM.

Proposed changes to some of the state’s dredging rules could ease costs for coastal communities seeking beach fill projects, welcome news for officials bracing for federal funding cuts to nourishment efforts.

The suggested changes, presented at the Coastal Resources Commission meeting last week, relate to the state’s assessment rules for dredging projects. Those regulations require permit applicants to ensure, via analysis, that the composition of any sediment pumped onto the beach is similar to the sand already there.

Under the proposal, those requirements would relax slightly, allowing dredged sediment to contain a slightly larger amount of coarse sand, known as "granular fraction."

"There are different sizes of sediment within any sample – there’s very fine material, sand-sized material, that granular material and there can also be gravel," said Matt Slagel, shoreline management specialist for the state Division of Coastal Management. "The changes we’re proposing are just for that coarse sand."

Currently, the state allows dredged sand to contain up to 5 percent more coarse material than the native sand. The proposed change would up that to 10 percent.

"So if an applicant wishes to use sand from a borrow site offshore, and the native sand has a total of 5 percent granular material, they could use sediment with up to 15 percent total," Slagel said. "It allows for greater flexibility."

Adding sand with a different composition to an established beach can have a number of negative impacts on the shoreline. If the sand is too fine, it erodes quickly; if there's too much gravel, tourism and wildlife can suffer. But the guidelines for those types of sediment aren't changing, Slagel said.

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