Erosion Eating Up South Carolina Beaches

folly beach erosion charleston harbor photo

Photo: Jack Duval

Folly Beach, a South Carolina Beach just outside of Charleston, needs another renourishment project just five years after the last one, according to a recent article in The State.According to the article, the rule for thumb for large sand renourishment projects is for them to last between eight and 10 years, but just five years later Folly Beach is in need of more sand. The federal requirement for another such program is that 60 feet or less of beach remains at high tide and two thirds of the beach meets this requirement.

Renourishment is the process of taking additional sand resources and widening the beach. Part of the program consists of bulldozing sand into the existing dunes, which creates a natural seawall for land protection. According to the Army Corps of Engineers, sand is dredged 3 miles offshore and sent to Folly Beach through a submerged pipeline.

The erosion is due to both natural and manmade issues.

"Sand that should supply Folly is not able to get to Folly because of the Charleston harbor jetties," said Leslie Slautter, a geology professor at College of Charleston.

Hurricanes cause rapid erosion as well.

"Having these hurricanes in close succession is a problem because Folly doesn't have the time to restore any of the sand," Slautter said. "The next storm comes along and takes the sand that's offshore and may move it over further making it difficult to recover."

Rising sea level also takes a toll according to a story in the Post and Courier:

The East Coast has been plagued by an unusually high surge of sea level. And the sea level is rising. A federal Environmental Protection Agency study in 1998 indicated that the sea level was rising about a foot per century on the East Coast. Conservationists warn the climate warming is exacerbating that.

More on Erosion
The Dirt on Soil Erosion
The Link Between Global Warming and Erosion
Global Warming Speeding Up Erosion in Alaska

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