Bayshore beaches need long-range plan

April 21, 2023

It's great news that Delaware Bay beaches are in line for $25 million from the federal Water Resources Development Act of 2022. It's also great that the federal government will pay 90% of the cost for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects to restore sand to areas along the bayshore. 

The remaining hurdle is to decide what non-federal agency provides the matching 10% funding. State officials can surely find $2.5 million.

Until final agreements are signed, we don't know how the funds will be spent and what beaches will be replenished. The bayshore includes a 27-mile stretch from Pickering Beach to Lewes Beach.

The five Atlantic beaches are undergoing replenishment projects, starting with Rehoboth Beach. The Army Corps and the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control have had a plan in place to rebuild and renourish 26 miles of ocean beaches since 2004. There has never been such a plan for the bay beaches.

Although $25 million is a lot of money, when considering the high cost of beach replenishment, it's not nearly enough. It will cost an estimated $110 million to complete what must be done to protect the bay beaches today and into the future.

Unfortunately, bay beach replenishment projects have a short lifespan due to storms that pound the coast.

What is really needed are engineered beaches where the dunes are rebuilt, planted with beach grass and completed with a back barrier overwash area, which helps protect property and infrastructure. Engineered beaches are more sustainable, and provide protection from high tides and storms.

Work done at Broadkill Beach and Fowler Beach provides perfect examples of engineered beaches.

Lewes Beach tends to be last on the list when replenishment occurs. At high tide, some beach sections are no wider than 10-15 feet.

Lewes Beach should be included as part of the ocean beach replenishment plan because of the important economic role the city plays in the state's $3 billion tourism industry.

We urge state, local and federal officials to use the Bay Beach Association as a catalyst to develop a long-term plan to replenish and stabilize bayshore beaches, along with developing a plan to replenish sections of Lewes Beach.

  • Editorials are considered and written by Cape Gazette Editorial Board members, including Publisher Chris Rausch, Editor Jen Ellingsworth, News Editor Nick Roth and reporters Ron MacArthur and Chris Flood. 

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