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Former DNREC administrator hired by City of Lewes to look at beach erosion

A longtime DNREC administrator has been hired by the City of Lewes to analyze beach erosion.

Tony Pratt was DNREC’s Shoreline and Waterway Management Section administrator before retiring in 2018.

He now serves as president of the American Beach & Shore Preservation Association which monitors coastal resources - including Delaware’s.

The City of Lewes wants Pratt to analyze its chronic beach erosion issues in the wake of damage done by a storm last October.

“Well the City, like so many communities, continues to suffer from storm impacts primarily and eventually sea level rise is another primary concern as to how it affects the beach loss over time," Pratt said. "But the storm (coastal storm in October 2021) that occurred over two months ago now - really impacted the dunes in Lewes and the State has yet to really respond to that.” 

Pratt says some concerned Lewes residents asked town leaders and Pratt to examine what can be done to respond to storm effects more promptly.

Pratt plans to work with DNREC and the Army Corps of Engineers over the next two to three months to fix the damaged dunes along Lewes Beach - primarily from Roosevelt Inlet towards the Children’s Beach House and improve infrastructure to handle future storms.

But Pratt says that could just be the beginning of his work.

“The chronic beach erosion is not one that is going to go away, said Pratt. "When I was with the government and the State of Delaware and John Hughes was my division director, we looked long and hard at the various measures we could take within the State; nourishment is still the optimal choice because it provides storm protection.”

Pratt notes that nourishment only makes sense if the calculated and measured benefit is greater than the cost of doing the work. He says over the years beach nourishment projects on bay and ocean beaches have made sense.

But Pratt says over time sea level rise could change that equation - requiring more and more sand to keep the beaches wide enough for recreational use.

Kelli Steele has over 30 years of experience covering news in Delaware, Baltimore, Winchester, Virginia, Phoenix, Arizona and San Diego, California.