Why is the beach and dune eroding? What can be done for erosion control? Why is beach nourishment preferred? What are the environmental benefits of beach restoration? How much does it cost and who pays? The mayor of West Hampton Dunes in this issue reports on their experiences, which helped them come triumphantly through Sandy. But here the issues raised at Quogue are set out in a series of questions and answers. Comments welcomed.
Why is the Beach and Dune Eroding?
Although the most noticeable erosion occurs during storms, notably northeasters and hurricanes, the dunes and beaches of Quogue have been steadily losing sand for years. It’s because of a combination of natural and man-made causes. The Great Hurricane of 1938 breached the barrier beach at Shinnecock eight miles to the east of the village and thus, the Shinnecock Inlet was born. The barrier was not restored; and decades later a promised sand by-pass system to restore the natural flow of sand by pumping was never executed. . It has been documented that the Inlet is unnaturally trapping about one half the natural flow of sand that normally flows from east to west. One of the examples of the east to west erosion progression is the fact that the eastern portion of Quogue’s beaches is significantly more damaged than the western portion. However, the erosion has been migrating westerly approximately 500-1,000 feet in the last two years and will undoubtedly continue.
How Bad is the Problem?
An increasing loss of sand from the beach and dune system has been documented for the last two decades. The northeast storms of this past winter have underscored the current vulnerability of the dune and beach system and, if left unchecked, could result in a destruction of the functional dune in Quogue. In addition to the Village beach, a number of private properties in the most at risk section, (from 120-200 Dune Road) lost their entire dunes this winter. A study undertaken for The Save the Dunes and Beaches Foundation, Inc. by Coastal Science & Engineering of Columbia, SC and First Coastal Corporation of Westhampton Beach, NY has concluded that Quogue is losing 60,000 cubic yards of sand per year. This is the same as 3,333 dump trucks of sand being trucked off our beaches every year. The only way to reverse this trend is bring sand to the beach.