Could Dredging Quogue’s Ocean Floor Harm Our Beachfront?

We are all stewards of our beach. All homeowners in Quogue consider our ocean beaches a precious natural resource, and all should have a say on any proposal that would alter our coastline.

The impact on Quogue’s oceanfront will not only affect a specific area (an est.1.3 miles of Quogue beach) as is proposed, but our entire 2.7 miles of oceanfront and our community as a whole.


In 2017, the Quogue Village Beach Advisory Committee was established by the Mayor and was tasked with evaluating a proposed dredging project that would impact all 2.7 miles of Quogue oceanfront. After a lengthy review, it was concluded that the project was deemed too expensive given the immediate need, and it was decided that on-going monitoring, sand-fencing, and beach scraping should be pursued as more feasible and sustainable alternatives.

Over the summer of 2018, it was revealed that a renewed effort is underway to nourish a specific 1.3 miles of Quogue beach. It must be understood, however, that our entire 2.7 miles of oceanfront will be impacted by such a project.

The new proposal calls for dredging approximately 536,400 cubic yards of sand from the ocean floor off Quogue’s beach. Of ongoing concern is that there is no scientific proof that this is an environmentally sound practice, and all evidence suggests that dredging must be repeated regularly and in perpetuity.

As stated in the Army Corps of Engineer’s Fire Island to Montauk Point (FIMP) Study, Quogue is not an “erosion hot spot” like neighboring Hampton Bays. Further, the following conclusions have been offered by objective experts:

  • In the main, Quogue beaches are healthy, with enough sand accretion from our westerly flow that has permitted scraping (dune bolstering) by the Village for the last 2 years.
  • “Beach nourishment”  is not a permanent solution, as it must be repeated every 4-6 years, at a cost of millions of dollars in each instance. Additionally, all dredged sand could be washed away in a major storm.
  • Beach nourishment does not prevent a breach (e.g. Shinnecock Inlet), and will not protect from flooding from the bay side during a storm event.

 

Over the last several years, CCQ has compiled a significant amount of research (see our full library, here), all of which informs our beliefs that:

  • Sand is a finite resource becoming harder to find, due to repeated dredging. The fact that there is sand available off-shore right now does not mean it should be plundered.
  • Dredging the ocean floor is an unnatural, environmentally and ecologically disruptive event.
  • The Army Corps of Engineers will be out of the sand dredging business in the next 30 years.
  • Beach nourishment is economically unsustainable. The nourishment project for Westhampton Dunes has required repeated dredging every 4 years (6 times) over 25 years, costing $90 million to date.
  • If FEMA had funds to pay for a beach nourishment project (it does not), this would require homeowners to provide public access to the beaches, and there is no guarantee that FEMA would have available funds when the time came to replenish once again.

 

As of August 2018, the new project design would encompass the same easterly section of Dune Road that was the focus of the previous proposal, though it differs in that it proposes to create a “Special Beach Erosion Tax District.” Residents of this district would finance a nourishment program along 1.3 miles, which includes the Village Beach. However, the effects of constant dredging will impact all of Quogue’s shoreline.

This decision, which will have far reaching and unanticipated effects, should not be limited to those residents in a small section of Dune Road. If the project will in fact benefit the entire stretch of Quogue’s oceanfront, as argued by the proponents of this measure, then it should be considered and approved by all residents of Quogue. To facilitate, public information should be published and distributed regarding all aspects of this new proposal, including:

  • Details of the permitting process, including dates and terms of use (e.g. one time vs. multiple uses);
  • Contingencies for natural disasters (e.g. will the existing DEC permit allow for emergency and immediate measures to be taken in response to the disaster, or must the Village re-apply);
  • A detailed and objective cost analysis of the proposed project;
  • Raw and current data used by those preparing the proposal;
  • A detailed map of the exact locations, depths, and distances of the proposed borrow sites for dredging;
  • Specific details about oversight and contact information for all contractors;
  • An inventory of parcels in the proposed tax district having existing geocubes or geotubes (known as hard structures), and analysis of what specific shoreline effects these structures are currently producing.

As CCQ has regularly stressed, there are proven, time-tested alternatives to dredging that have been successfully implemented and are relatively cost-effective, with less impact upon the environment. In our local context, these measures include:

  1. Sand By Pass
  2. Scraping
  3. Planting Dune Grass
  4. Dune fencing
  5. Relocating structures (“managed retreat”)

Sea level rise will continue to be a primary factor impacting coastal communities. Planning should be long range, science-based, and include participation from the entire community. As a member of our community, please let your voice be heard.

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