Beach Restoration

As much as we would all love to be in denial about Hilton Head's Beach Restoration Project, we can be no longer. It is here. There seems to be a lot of confusion about Beach Restoration, so we are going to attempt to clear it up for you!

It's Purpose: The purpose of Beach Restoration is to build up the sand dunes. Hilton Head Island goes through this every 10 years, so you can imagine how much our beaches change within those 10 years. Beach Restoration restores our beaches and builds the dunes back up. Some people believe this prevents erosion, however it does not. It slows the erosion process down and hides it from us so we just don't see it happening. As agonizing as this all may be for tourists and residents alike, it helps protect the island during tropical storms, so we DO need it.

How it works: The process of Beach Restoration is to take sand from the deeper part of the beach/ocean and pump it on to shore. This is done using a submersible pump system attached to a barge that pumps the sand out. The other end of the pump system is on the beach receiving the sand. Once the sand is on the beach, a bulldozer comes along and builds up the sand on the dunes as well as evens out remaining sand. The diagram below explains better how this process works.


Pros and Cons of Beach Restoration:
PROS: 1. Beaches stay intact - if we didn't have Beach Restoration, our beaches would have eroded naturally a long time ago.
2. We have better buffers during storms which results in safer beaches. Also, the sandy bottom protects our feet when we are walking. If we didn't have Beach Restoration, we would all be walking along rocky surfaces when we walk on the beach.
3. Protects properties inland - the erosion wouldn't simply stop where the shoreline stops. It would keep going even to where those million dollar beach houses are. Nature doesn't care how much money you have wrapped up in your property. You can't pay Mother Nature to leave your property alone. Beach Restoration helps Mother Nature make that decision.
4. Secures environment for future generations. Our kids and grandkids will grow up with the same Hilton Head Island beaches that we did thanks to Beach Restoration!

CONS: 1. Beach Restoration is a temporary fix to a permanent problem. While is delays beach erosion, it doesn't prevent it. Beach erosion is still happening and we are just masking the problem to make us feel better.
2. Beach Restoration is expensive. This project will cost Hilton Head Island an estimated $20.7 million PLUS the lack of tourists this year due to the Beach Restoration. It will be a tough year for the locals of Hilton Head Island.
3. It will interrupt life cycles and alters natural course of nature. This is a big one. The environment and wildlife will not fare well with the Beach Restoration Project. From all the sand dollars that will be crushed, to the noise-sensitive dolphins other marine life, all of our ocean friends will be affected and not in a good way. Luckily, the sea turtles are protected by law, so they have to respect their nesting and not disrupt any land that has been nested by a sea turtle, but other wildlife that is not protected by law unfortunately, doesn't have that same luxury.