The Quogue shoreline has been transformed since the October storm and the Jonas storm on January 23rd. These storms have decimated areas on the western end of the beach, in areas where a hopper dredge has been removing sand and transporting it to Fire Island since last spring.
The coincidence of these factors inspire a few questions. Among them…
- Why would a dredge remove sand so close to shore?
- Is it because it is cheaper and easier?
- Can these “borrow” sites replenish themselves in as short a period of time as some stipulate?
Conspicuously, the areas that have suffered the latest erosion are those westward of the dredge. The west end is now jagged, with cliffs ten feet high and severely eroded.
Ironically, the US Army Corps of Engineers’ own research has long recognized that “hot spot” erosion can be caused by offshore borrow sites that are poorly designed and located too close to the beach. Click here to access the report.
Decide for yourself if the unintended consequences of dredging seem worth the risk.
Above: A possible combination of nearshore dredging and storm tides during winter storm Jonas have cut away at Quogue’s western dunes and exposed old beach access stairways that had been buried for the last 30 years.
In 2012, Hurricane Sandy split Fire Island into two islands, creating a new inlet to the bay behind it. Contrary to the fears of many, there is no evidence suggesting that the opening of the new inlet has increased the risk of of flooding to the mainland (see the following USGS study, Hurricane Sandy Impacts Did Not Contribute to Subsequent Storm Flooding). In fact, scientists say that the breach actually helps clean the bay waters, and fishermen are seeing positive changes.
The following video is courtesy of National Geographic.
Below excerpts are from a November 4th editorial in The New York Times, here.
“Today, 75 to 90 percent of the world’s natural sand beaches are disappearing, due partly to rising sea levels and increased storm action, but also to massive erosion caused by the human development of shores. Many low-lying barrier islands are already submerged…
“Yet the extent of this global crisis is obscured because so-called beach nourishment projects attempt to hold sand in place and repair the damage by the time summer people return, creating the illusion of an eternal shore…
“Before next summer, endless lines of dump trucks will have filled in bare spots and restored dunes. Virginia Beach alone has been restored more than 50 times. In recent decades, East Coast barrier islands have used 23 million loads of sand, much of it mined inland and the rest dredged from coastal waters—a practice that disturbs the sea bottom, creating turbidity that kills coral beds and damages spawning grounds, which hurts inshore fisheries…
Click here to read the entire article. Watch a TEDx video presentation on the topic, below.