The US Army Corps of Engineers New York District just announced the details of a navigational dredging project for the Sandy Hook Channel – a major artery for shipping and recreational boating. What makes this project so unique is that the sand and gravel excavated from the channel will be placed at the Sea Bright Borrow Area – the main source of beach nourishment sand for Northern coastal New Jersey.
COA has been advocating for many years for the placement of material from these types of locations back to the borrow area to spare other natural sand formations from harvest, and beneficially use the dredge material from the channel. This is an example of a win-win – for navigation, for coastal communities, and for marine life that live on these natural lumps. The goal is that the replenishment of these borrow areas will alleviate some of the need for harvesting from untouched areas. There are other areas in New Jersey that can make this work, including major inlets and other areas of sand accretion.
See https://njbeaches.org/njdep_public_files/pdfs/sandresourcemap2012.pdf for a map of sand resources identified for current or potential future use.
We are working to identify these locations, and the borrow areas close to them that have been used in the past so that the USACE can then dredge them for navigation and place that material in the borrow area for storage. While not a blanket solution, this type of project can at least minimize the impact of nourishment activities by alleviating the need for borrowing from new areas while providing for navigation and coastal protection.
A final note: we recognize that this material is not going out to the HARS site for remediation (for capping the contaminated area) as it has been placed there in the past, however COA believes that at this point in time, that material can be used to greater effect by being “stored” at the Sea Bright borrow area for further beach nourishment placement. This does not mean HARS is remediated and no longer needs clean sand, it does and we keep a close and watchful eye on any placement out there.