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Dewey, Rehoboth beaches getting more sand

James Dawson/Delaware Public Media

Tons of sand are being dropped on Rehoboth and Dewey Beach to help them withstand storm damage.

Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are pumping a million pounds of sand from the ocean floor onto the beaches over the next few weeks.

It’s the cheapest, most effective way to repair the beaches, and it’s been done roughly every three years since 2005, said Delaware’s Shoreline and Waterway Administrator Tony Pratt.

“We know that in between the intervals of three years, there’s going to be erosion,” Pratt said. “We’re not eliminating erosion, we’re resetting the erosion clock and so what we want to do is reset that back to the design standard every three years by adding sand to the beach.”

This will make both beaches able to withstand storm damage and erosion, Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Stephen Rochette said.

“There’s a re-nourishment cycle where we come back every several years to combat that erosion and rebuild that berm,” Rochette said. “With severe storms in the past we’ve had the ability to come back and repair some of those damages, as with Hurricane Sandy we received the funding and approval to do that, so there is that possibility as well.”

In addition to benefiting the beach itself, the re-nourishment will also benefit the surrounding cities and counties, Mayor Dale Cooke of the Town of Dewey Beach said. An influx of tourists generates more revenue and allows more jobs to be created, and Cooke associates the reeling in of tourists with an attractive, replenished beach.

“We’re all interdependent,” Cooke said. “If this beach replenishment draws in tourists, draws in the revenues from the tourists and jobs related to tourism, it helps Dewey of course because people can rent their houses and Dewey Beach can have that many more people going to their businesses and the businesses and the houses help the town survive.”

Rochette said he anticipates about one month of dredging operations and work on the outfall pipes before the beaches are restored.

Federal and state governments have poured over $100 million dollars into beach restoration projects for a projected 50-year period.

Dewey and Rehoboth were most recently repaired after Hurricane Sandy in 2013.

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