Longtime consultant will track Nags Head erosion

By on March 28, 2012

Sand is building along the dune line. (Rob Morris)

Nags Head plans to re-sign Coastal Science and Engineering, the company that led its beach-widening project, to another five-year contract to monitor how the shoreline fares against storms and erosion.

A monitoring plan is required for the town to qualify for reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for sand losses after a named storm.

Town commissioners agreed last week to use an exemption to the law requiring requests for qualifications on projects over $30,000. The law allows the exemption if a local government provides an explanation.

Town Manager Cliff Ogburn said that CS&E has been with the project from the start and has already gathered baseline data to continue monitoring sand losses in the first engineered project of its kind on the northern Outer Banks.

The company also has the expertise and track record for the job, he said. CS&E has followed up with monitoring on all of its projects except one, Ogburn said, and has worked with the state and federal agencies involved.

Surfers get ready to tackle some waves south of Nags Head Fishing Pier Wednesday. (Rob Morris)

Nags Head will pay CS&E $450,000 over five years from a contingency budget line item to track erosion and take soil and sediment samples.

The maintenance plan calls for re-nourishing the beach after five years or a 50 percent loss of new sand, whichever comes later, Ogburn said.

After Hurricane Irene in August, measurements showed that about half the visible sand from the project was underwater but still within the system. FEMA considers sand offshore to a depth of 19 feet part of the system.

Ogburn noted that wind-blown sand has started to build up along the base of the dune line.

The 10-mile project entailed pumping about 4.6 million cubic yards of sand from offshore onto the beach. It started in May of 2011 and took about four months.

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