Beach Replenishment: How Does It Work?

A massive project creates a spectacle as it moves toward downtown Ocean City beaches.

At the same time Ocean City received some long-awaited spring weather, an Army Corps of Engineers sand-pumping project moved toward the downtown beaches.

The spectacle of pipelines, gushing mud and heavy equipment leaves many onlookers wondering what exactly they're witnessing.

Ed Voigt of the Public Affairs Office for the Army Corps of Engineers' Philadelphia Division, took some time Friday to explain how it all works (see photo gallery above for each stage of the process).

Ocean City is in the midst of a $15 million "renourishment and repair" project that will restore eroded and storm-damaged beaches between the north end of the island and 14th Street. Major work is expected by be complete by Memorial Day.

Voigt said the process is as follows:

  • The Army Corps identifies an underwater "borrow area" offshore, where the grain size of the sand matches the beaches of Ocean City. Voigt said the choice is not only for aesthetics, but for stability — matching grains are less prone to erosion.
  • A massive dredge (in this case clearly visible off the north end of Ocean City near the Great Egg Harbor Inlet) is the source where a giant "vacuum" pulls up sand and water.
  • The intake travels through grating that filters out debris. A 2006 project in Surf City on Long Beach Island infamously transported some long-submerged World War II military ordnance, and since then, the intake filters have been standard, Voigt said.
  • The sand and water travels through an underwater pipeline to the beach (in this case, it lands just north of North Street Beach).
  • The dredged material continues through a pipeline that runs down the beach to a work area that is proceeding southward to 14th Street.
  • The material gushes out the end of the pipeline into a "basket" that serves as a second filter (with a finer screen) to eliminate any sort of debris.
  • Any debris is hauled to dumpsters on the beach.
  • Conventional earth-moving equipment then moves the sand to the optimal shape and slope.

Voigt said much of the work is designed to elevate the "towel area" of the beach, which the Army Corps refers to as the "berm."

"The berm protects the dune, and the dune protects the community," he said.

As of Friday, the project had reached the Fifth Street jetty.

Read more: Ocean City Beach Update and Summer Countdown


sick of south end neglect April 07, 2013 at 05:08 PM
and Brian W. what are the solutions you refer to? Please be specific - and share this knowledge with the world, don't keep it to yourself
Frank April 07, 2013 at 05:14 PM
I understand you are frustrated. I disagree with your comments and attacks on the the Gillians and find them offensive.
sick of south end neglect April 07, 2013 at 05:27 PM
Well Frank, that's a real shocker. I think the mayor seems to be a nice guy but the fact of the matter, he is following the same old line of ignoring the south end and putting all focus and money and attention to the north end and boardwalk. He is the Mayor of ALL of Ocean City - not just his buddies, not just his boardwalk, not just his amusements. He is the mayor of the entire community but he is leaving the south end vulnerable to disaster not to mention destroying the summer for people who want to use the beach and rent out their homes to pay their mortgages and flood insurance premiums. I find it offensive that this administration is doing what all the others have before them - take care of the few and ignore the rest. I find it offensive that southenders pay taxes at the same rate as the north end but do not get any of the same services. I find it offensive that Mayor Gillian had the opportunity to add the south end on to the north end beach replenishment and did not even pursue the possibility. I find that incredibly offensive!
Eric Sauder April 07, 2013 at 05:30 PM
At least there are people in the 4th ward that know what needs to be done :).
Frank April 07, 2013 at 06:15 PM
Do you know for a FACT what you are claiming is true or are they assumptions?
sick of south end neglect April 07, 2013 at 06:28 PM
That what is true, Frank? That the city had the opportunity to do an "add on" to the north end project? If you look at the article in the Gazette from last Sept.2012, Dwight Pakan, an egineer with the ACE, is quoted as saying that the city could do an add on" or ACE term, a "betterment" to the north end project. This "fact" as presented in the OC Gazette was followed up with a phone call to Mr. Pakan and he confirmed that the city could have done that but they did not even pursue the option. So yes, this is a fact. There have been many questions asked of the city - why wasn't this option even pursued? why didn't you even get a price? - but no one answers the question - so the assumption is - no one cared enough to pursue the option - to get a price from the contractor what an add on would actually cost. The matter was rejected out of hand with no research into the possibility at all. If this administration had followed up on the possibility, maybe it was viable and a good solution, but no one followed up. Understand? That is very upsetting and disturbing. That is the fact - the assumption is - they didn't care enough to research the matter and get a price. That part is an assumption - the only other assumption would be - no one felt like investigating the matter and getting a price because it was not important to them to do so.
Linda Barnes April 07, 2013 at 07:01 PM
You do. I assume you are a property owner. I grew up there in the 50's and well remember beach replenishment pipes going across the island off and on all the time. It is part of life when you develop a barrier island. If there were no beaches, people wouldn't come and keep the economy going in OC over the years. I still come back every summer from the West Coast because OC's beaches are the best. That's what keeps your property values sky high. People , including myself, spend lots of money every summer to enjoy those replenished beaches.
walt hays April 07, 2013 at 10:03 PM
At least I don't post in anonymity-???
CTA April 07, 2013 at 11:36 PM
Wel, sick.... I grew up in oc , starting in1955' owned property in the south end since 1973. Year round resident for more than 50 years it seems...... The original dune went away be cause no one said a word..... The ocean front folks actually in one case attacked members of the Jaycees while they tried to do a dune building project in the '70s. That sounds like neglect to me. In the same time period, the towns of Avalon and stone harbor aggressively built and protected their dunes. Result? No ocean overwash during sandy....hummmmmmm? What's that say?
Jesse April 08, 2013 at 12:38 AM
CTA you are something attacking the people who live in the south end because the dunes are gone. Excuse me, but I don't see dunes in the north end or themiddle either - no really high dunes anywhere in Ocean City - do you condemn everyone in thyis town? I wonder how many of the owners in the south end actually were a party to your accusations of neglect. It is ridiculous to blame people in the south end for damage from a hurricane such ignorance!! you are ignorant were your educated in Ocean City too? then it says bad things about the educational system in this town. -
CTA April 08, 2013 at 12:47 AM
Jess Only one question......when did you arrive in oc? Hear my comment again, I think you'll see that there is no 'attack'. Only statements of observed action. I was there.....were you? And no comment about Avalon/stone harbor? Their property values almost make oc look like a slum.....nice dunes and beaches too.....
Jesse April 08, 2013 at 01:00 AM
CTA --- great observations but I think you are putting the blame on the wrong people. And yes - Avalon and Stone Harbor have much higher values - and they did not let realtors put boxes of condos on every square inch of town and they don't have a tacky boardwalk and like Sea Isle - an awful looking carnival amusement park at their entrance (oh excuse me, that is a Gillian hideous amusement park at their entrance) you will get no argument from me about how much nicer Stone Harbor and Avalon are than Ocean City - but I think you are misplacing the blame - it is pretty obvious where the blame lies and it is not with the people who bought homes the south end (where there is no hideous amusment park - is there?)
Jean April 08, 2013 at 02:43 AM
I find it more than coincidence that the most southern blocks of OC had the ocean literally running through, around and under homes on Central Avenue during Sandy. These same beaches are those that have seen the least amount of attention when it comes to beach nourishment. I say, "nourishment" because this is the term used in Florida. They don't wait until the beaches are significantly eroded, and replenish, but rather nourish, or feed the beaches to keep them healthy. Here in the Southend, we have beaches that were in jeapordy before Sandy. Residents called and called and called the city for two years, alerting the city of the problem. Nothing was done. Early Fall, well before Sandy, OC began trucking in sand. Too little, too late. And here we are today. They rolled the dice, ignored our pleas. I have seen all of the pictures from 1962. Even more reason to hold the city responsible. They were well aware of what could have happened. And, they continue to roll the dice.
G.G. remlap April 08, 2013 at 05:59 AM
So many opinions about what to do with this great cement retention basin that we call Ocean City. As far as who's to blame I think it would be fair to say we all have a share of blame,some more than others for sure. It's great to live here in Ocean City so close to the beach and the ocean. Looking out over the sea early in the morning I san feel the awesome power of the waves and tides. But I know that us living here has costs both dollar and cents and to our habitat. It was foolish to build homes so close to the sea. It is not a matter of If, the next storm comes along, but when. In the last 50 odd years we have been lucky. We were lucky with Sandy. All the beach sand and dunes will wind up helping to smash our homes when the weather Gods send there fury our way. We chose to live here as foolish as that may be. Count each day, each week, each month,each year as borrowed time on that ticking clock. keep that in mind as you wait for your sand, flood insurance bill, local tax assesment, or the crowds of summer guests. This Island belongs to the sea and someday she will reclaim It
Oceancity Resident April 08, 2013 at 10:22 AM
Such a stupid statement. Devastate the environment by pumping sand from point A to point B..........Really?????? That is "Devastation"?????
Oceancity Resident April 08, 2013 at 10:23 AM
Screaming for help.....good god.
Jesse April 08, 2013 at 12:29 PM
Yes GG that is true but in the meantime, my taxes should get the same services as the taxes of those paid in the north end of town and my taxes should get beach replenishment when the sea takes over, as you say, I won't be paying taxes anymore so it won't be an issue - BUT now I want the same consideration as the north end gets, even if there is no boardwalk and business interest to protect - there are homes and infrastructure to protect in the south end of Ocean City and we need a Mayor who is clear sighted and fair and recognizes that fact Do we have one now? --- Not looking good, is it?
walt hays April 08, 2013 at 05:25 PM
In the mean time, where is the dredge and why have they not pumped for two days?
Jim C April 08, 2013 at 05:32 PM
Walt, Dredge is in Atlantic City by the Farley Marina.
G.G. remlap April 09, 2013 at 01:59 AM
Well, I do understand the urgency that you'all in the Southend feel. And I am sure it's been pointed out to you that guests and business in the northend of town bring in loads of cash. Parking meters (even our new 2 million dollar lot) parking lots, beach tag revenues, boardwalk stores and concessions, restaurants, motel and hotel rooms, our police station ,courthouse, library, community center, schools, golf course, politically connected amusement pier, the bulk of our marine fleet, the world famous lifeguard museum, our new 200 million dollar bridge and bike trail, our bustling intra-state airport,city hall, most of our city services, the music pier and boardwalk itself, ALL ASSETS, ALL LOCATED IN THE REVENUE PRODUCING NORTHEND. Do you know what your tax bill would be without THE THRIVING METROPOLIS NORTH OF 34th ST? A lot more than it is right now. So stop crying about the dam sand. The Northend should be given an advantage of beach and dune protection. THERES A LOT MORE TO PROTECT.With all the revenue the Northend brings in we will be able to sure up your dunes and beaches. With any luck it will get done before a nice juicy Nor'easter comes along and washes all your Bar-B-Que Grills out to sea.
Eric Sauder April 09, 2013 at 04:47 AM
What can you say to that?
Frank April 09, 2013 at 05:02 AM
Bridge project 450 million.
G.G. remlap April 10, 2013 at 01:31 AM
I believe $200 million was the initial figure when the route 52/Ocean City bridge project was first allowed to move forward. But hey whats 250 million between friends, Frank you are my friend? Frank, Frank
Eric Sauder April 10, 2013 at 01:40 AM
What is being missed is that in terms of vacation rentals the fourth ward probably has more of them than any other ward. And I can tell you, living where I live, that there is a steady stream of traffic going by my place to the boardwalk and back every night. So don't discount the south end as not being instrumental to commerce in Ocean City. And by far the biggest revenue generator for the City isn't the boardwalk or parking lots or parking meters, but property taxes. And once again the 4th ward contributes more to the City coffers than any other ward. So its really not a good idea to think the south end has little to do with commerce here, and it won't effect the City if it is ignored..
Eric Sauder April 10, 2013 at 01:44 AM
I don't live here because we have a boardwalk. I live here because we have a beach.
NOW WE ARE MAD April 10, 2013 at 01:53 AM
GG-are you kidding? The truth of the matter is that without second home owners there would be nothing on this island. the tax revenue collected from people who live here, what three months out of twelve? have no kids in the school system. really for what second home owners pay in taxes, they don't ask for much. they do however own these homes because there is, or was, a beach. by the way, according to the mayor, the airport is in the southend. i was sent a paper the mayor put together of all that the city has done for the southend. among the items- the airport. wow, how do we begin to thank the mayor for the southend airport? what a gift.
Eric Sauder April 10, 2013 at 02:24 AM
I wrote a more detailed response yesetrday I didn't post. I thought maybe he was being sarcastic.
G.G. remlap April 10, 2013 at 03:50 AM
I heard the southend was responsable for the BYOB drive and the court martial of that nice Mr. Ping fellow. No wonder nobody wants to fix up there beach. Sharp eye Eric S. I am sorry you'all are mad at little ol' me. Anger is such a negitive emotion, clouds your judgement, shortens your lifespan and turns your face red. Now I imagine you folks are "bout sick of me and my observations. I know I'm sick of many of you. Now I'm gone to give you a nice little break.Going in for Electric Shock treatments. Don't worry I 'll be back better than ever! One last thing, Mr. Mad Guy I heard that there are quite a few rich guys who own planes and advertising banners and they love your little airport. (Did the Mayor give away our sweet little 12 hole golf course, or does that still belong to the Union, I mean the north?)
Eric Sauder April 10, 2013 at 12:29 PM
I don't know why you would think I'm mad at you.
G.G. remlap April 11, 2013 at 03:13 AM
Eric, I,m not mad at anyone. The Judges won't allow it. And besides your the only guy that I read even when I don't agree with you.


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