State of the Beach/State Reports/NY/Beach Fill

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New York Ratings
Indicator Type Information Status
Beach Access64
Water Quality54
Beach Erosion6-
Erosion Response-5
Beach Fill5-
Shoreline Structures5 4
Beach Ecology2-
Surfing Areas27
Website5-


Policies

State, Territory, and Commonwealth Beach Nourishment Programs, A National Overview (NOAA, March 2000) provides the following information:

"The state has some policies regarding beach nourishment.

Policy Citation and Description

N.Y. Envtl. Conserv. Law §34. N.Y. Exec. Law §42. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 6, §505. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 19, §600. Divides erosion protection into structural and non-structural methods with preference given to non-structural methods. Beach nourishment is considered a structural erosion protection measure and is subject to several state laws and their associated regulation.

State of New York Coastal Management Program Document / FEIS. Policy 13 Beach nourishment that occurs as a result of beneficial disposal of dredged material is not held to the 30 year standard (of reasonably controlling erosion); it is recognized that beach nourishment is not the primary purpose of action and that placement of sand on the beach has benefits to natural protective features thus advancing other policies.

Related Policies

Near Shore Sand Mining Regulations

State of New York Coastal Management Program Document / FEIS. Policy 15. Mining of borrow sites for beach nourishment must not adversely impact coastal processes and natural protective features so that erosion or flooding is exacerbated.

Dredge and Fill Regulations

N.Y. Envtl. Conserv. Law §34. Coastal Erosion Hazard Areas Act. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 6, §505. Coastal Erosion Management Regulations. Activities allowed and permitted within natural protective features are dredging which is used for constructing or maintaining navigation channels, bypassing sand around natural and man-made obstructions, or artificial beach nourishment and deposition of clean sand or gravel within nearshore areas.

Sand Scraping/Dune Reshaping

Allowed, but DEC has placed requirements on beach dimensions - the beach must be 8 ft. high and 100ft. wide before scrapping is allowed. A permit is required. State of New York Coastal Management Program Document / FEIS. Policy 17. Non-structural measures to minimize damage to natural resources and property from flooding and erosion shall be used whenever possible. This includes the reshaping of bluffs and dunes in order to strengthen coastal landforms.

Dune Creation/Restoration

State of New York Coastal Management Program Document / FEIS. Policy 17. Nonstructural measures to minimize damage to natural resources and property from flooding and erosion shall be used whenever possible. This includes the strengthening of coastal landforms by planting appropriate and stabilizing vegetation on dunes.

Public Access Regulations

State of New York Coastal Management Program Document / FEIS. Policy 19. It is the policy of the State to: Protect, maintain, and increase the level and types of access to public water-related recreation resources and facilities.

State of New York Coastal Management Program Document / FEIS. Policy 20. It is the Policy of the State that: Access to the publicly-owned foreshore and to lands immediately adjacent to the foreshore or the water’s edge that are publicly-owned, shall be provided and it shall be in a manner compatible with adjoining uses.

Together, these policies provide for maintenance of existing access, and development of new access( including transportation to a site, services, and parking) for publicly funded beach nourishment projects.

Beach Nourishment Funding Program

There is state funding for beach nourishment. Most beach nourishment projects are funded by the state legislature on a project by project basis. Local costs have been appropriated by county legislatures or, town/village boards on a project by project basis. There has been some limited action on the local level to create erosion taxing districts to raise funds to pay for local projects, or the local share of federal/state projects.

State Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), Title 11. This fund Provides several million dollars annually for a broad range of coastal projects, including the construction of small shore protection projects such as beach nourishment. However, as of 1999, no EPF monies have been used for this purpose.

Amount of State Funding

State funding is variable from year to year depending on the projects proposed.

Cost Share Requirements

The formula for cost sharing Federal shore protection projects is: 65% federal; 24.5% state, 10.5% local. The non-federal portion is usually shared: 70% state; 30% county/municipality. State law allows a 50/50 split between the state and county/municipality, however, this it not usually the case. For state/local projects the cost share is 70/30, unless funded by the Environmental Protection Fund, in which case the cost share is 50/50."

New York State Coastal Policy 15 states:

Mining, excavation or dredging in coastal waters shall not significantly interfere with the natural coastal processes which supply beach materials to land adjacent to such waters and shall be undertaken in a manner which will not cause an increase in erosion of such land.


New York State Coastal Policy 17 states:

Non-structural measures to minimize damage to natural resources and property from flooding and erosion shall be used whenever possible. This policy recognizes both the potential adverse impacts of flooding and erosion upon development and upon natural protective features in the coastal area, as well as the costs of protection against those hazards which structural measures entail. This policy shall apply to the planning, siting and design of proposed activities and development, including measures to protect existing activities and development. To ascertain consistency with this policy, it must be determined if any one, or a combination of, non-structural measures would afford the degree of protection appropriate both to the character and purpose of the activity or development, and to the hazard. If non-structural measures are determined to offer sufficient protection, then consistency with the policy would require the use of such measures, whenever possible.


Under appropriate conditions, private property owners may be allowed to conduct fill projects to protect their coastal property and structures. State projects utilize fill, sand bypassing, and inlet management. The agencies that have responsibility for permitting and oversight are the Department of Environmental Conservation (regulatory authority), the Department of State (consistency review authority) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Permits are required for all projects on the coast. Most projects will require a Corps of Engineers permit, a Department of Environmental Conservation permits or permits, and a Coastal Zone Management consistency review and decision. Projects that are not consistent with CMP policy cannot be undertaken.

According to the NYSDOS, routine sand bypassing has the potential to significantly reduce erosion rates along many shorelines in New York by eliminating detrimental effects caused by built structures on the shoreline. This process mechanically picks up sand from one side of an inlet or shore protection structure, where there is excess sand, and deposits it on the other side of the inlet or protection structure, where there is a sand deficit. Periodic sand bypassing by New York State, related to inlet dredging, has reduced erosion impacts at Jones Island and other sites in New York. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has reported that natural bypassing is occurring at some inlets (Shinnecock, Moriches). DOS is working with the Corps and other partners to confirm this condition. If natural bypassing is occurring there may be no need for artificial measures. At inlets where natural bypassing does not transport 100% of the updrift sand supply to the down drift beaches DOS will continue to advocate adaptive measures to restore natural sediment transport quantities.

The immediate focus is to reestablish longshore transport of sand to mitigate erosion impacts caused by jetties and inlets on Long Island, without detriment to inlet navigation. The Office of Coastal, Local Government and Community Sustainability is working with local governments and other state and federal agencies to implement some type of sand bypassing system at each inlet. This requires investigation of environmental parameters, coastal processes, and design of a cost-effective and environmentally safe system.

Following successful implementation of routine sand bypassing along the south shore, the Office of Coastal, Local Government and Community Sustainability plans to identify other coastal sites where sand bypassing would be beneficial to restore eroded beaches affected by publicly built structures.

NYDOS staff also provided this comment:

There is significant concern among the public and elected officials regarding the potential for breaches in the barrier islands. These concerns often lead to advocacy for beach fill and dune construction. At the same time, the public has limited understanding of the natural processes that build barrier islands, such as breaches, washovers and inlet migration. Large quantities of sand can be accumulated by breaches and washovers, and the value of restoring these processes for the ecosystem as well as the long term stability of the barriers should be recognized. While flooding of the mainland associated with breaches could result in extensive damages, failure to allow cross island sediment transport could make the barriers thinner by restricting bay side sediment accumulation. As a result, efforts to stabilize the ocean beach and dune could make the barriers excessively fragile over time, leading to catastrophic failures during a major storm. Additional research and public outreach is needed to understand barrier island processes and communicate the benefits of natural processes.


Inventory

There is no formal inventory of beach fill projects in New York. The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers keep informal information on past public beach fill projects. The last update of this information was in 1996, when the last public project was completed.

There are three beach areas in New York that have had 50-year federal "Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction" projects authorized by Congress. These authorizations allowed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to launch studies of the potential coastal erosion problems in this order:

  • A Reconnaissance Report, which documents existing conditions and possible solutions, and establishes whether there is a federal interest in the project. If the project passes this barrier, it moves to…
  • A Feasibility Study, to determine whether the proposed project is environmentally acceptable and economically justified. This results in a recommended plan, which then leads to…
  • An Appropriations Request, which requires Congressional approval of any federal funds being spent on the proposed project (which cannot exceed 65% of the project cost and rarely reach 50%, with state and local funds making up the balance).


The 50-year federal projects and the corresponding start and end dates are as follows:

  • Fire Island Inlet to Jones Inlet, NY 1974 - 2024
  • Atlantic coast of New York City 1975 - 2025
  • E. Rockaway Inlet to Rockaway Inlet, NY 1975 - 2025


In February 2014 U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer announced the details of a $180 million dune and groin protection system for Long Beach, a South Shore community decimated when Hurricane Sandy slammed its shores Oct. 31, 2012. The project entails the construction of a beach berm, dune and groin system to reduce the potential for storm damage along approximately 35,000 linear feet of shoreline, including the creation or rehabilitation of at least 22 groins and the addition of more than 4.7 million cubic yards of sand. The project could start as early as fall 2014. The project will be 100% paid for by the U.S. government, using funds from the $50 billion Sandy relief bill signed into law by President Obama in January 2013.

In June 2016 The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced the completion of a $28 million resiliency project to restore Coney Island’s beaches, prevent erosion and protect communities from future storm surges. The Sea Gate Reach, the last stage of the two-decade Coney Island Shore Protection Project, involved placing almost 70,000 cubic feet of sand in Sea Gate and building four T-shaped rock structures, each the length of a football field, that prevent further erosion. In total, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has now replenished almost three miles of beachfront along Coney Island with sand from Gravesend Bay.

There are several recently completed fill projects in New York. The Westhampton Beach Project was designed to provide beach fill, taper an existing groin field, and fill the compartments of the groins in the villages of Westhampton Dunes, Westhampton Beach, and Southhampton. Approximately 4,486,600 cubic yards of sand were placed along 21,460 feet of beach. Initial costs were estimated at $30 million, while the annual project cost for its 30-year life is estimated at $6,152,000. The actual cost of the project was less than predicted and a scheduled fill of the project occurred in the spring of 2001. The project is reportedly performing better than expected.[1] A movie has now been made documenting this project.

Despite the apparent "success" of the Westhampton Dunes beach fill project, the project has been criticized as an example of why federal tax dollars should not be used to try to stop the inevitable shifts of sand and water on storm-battered barrier strips. The project was the result of a successful lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) for a previous botched anti-erosion effort. Once the case was won and the property owners were assured of 30 years of beach fill, those who lost homes rebuilt on a grand scale, only to use the homes as rental property. In fact, 2000 census figures show Westhampton Dunes has 172 homes but just 11 residents.

US Army Corps of Engineers conducts beach fill in East Rockaway, NY

Beaches that have been filled more than once include Westhampton (twice), Rockaway (approximately three times in the last ten years), and a private fill at Fire Island Pines (twice, with a third project proposed). The projects at Rockaway Beach have required $216 million to place 29 million cubic yards of sand on the beach, according to research compiled by Western Carolina University's Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines.

Started in 2004, the West of Shinnecock Project placed approximately 450,000 cubic yards of sand from the inlet channel on adjacent beaches. Approximately 40-60,000 cubic yards were placed just west of the inlet jetties to address severe erosion problems in front of the fishing cooperative. The remainder were placed further downdrift to accomplish sand bypassing around the inlet. The timing of future fill to address erosion west of the jetties is still uncertain. The initial project cost was estimated at $8,025,000, and the annual cost for the 6-year project life has been estimated at $3,245,000.

The Long Beach Project, as originally conceived, would have placed sand between Point Lookout and the western boundary of Long Beach, constructed groins in the vicinity of Point Lookout, and reconditioned groins in Long Beach. The length of the planned fill was 41,000 feet, and the initial planned fill volume was 8,642,000 cubic yards, with fill every 5 years for the 50-year project life using 2,111,000 cubic yards of sand. Sixteen groins would also be rehabilitated and three new groins were proposed for construction. Initial costs are estimated at $69,894,000 with an annual cost of $8,954,000.

Several community and environmental groups (Coastal Conservation Association New York, Surfrider Foundation, National Resources Protection Association, American Littoral Society, United Mobile Sport Fisherman and Surfer's Environmental Alliance) expressed opposition to this project - some because they oppose increased public access that would be required by the state and federal government, and some because they feel that the project was largely unnecessary (aerial photos from the Corps, bolstered by the testimony of an independent coastal engineer, reportedly indicate that this section of coastline is not eroding but is, in fact, accreting), very expensive, may degrade the marine environment, change that sand quality at the beach, and may severely alter the waves that surfers consider among the best on Long Island.[2]

The Surfrider Foundation, represented by its NYC, Central Long Island and Eastern Long Island chapters, is one of the groups that have expressed opposition to the Long Beach project. The chapters won an important interim victory by mobilizing people to petition the Long Beach city council and the US Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) to conduct a study on the impact to recreational wave use of the proposed beach fill project. ACOE is now preparing a "surfability" report of Long Beach, as well as other spots on Long Island, thanks to the NYC chapter's activism on this issue.

As reported in an article in newsday.com in May 2005, ("Local Surfers Making Political Waves"), Surfrider's activism has apparently resulted in a rethinking of the project by ACOE with the beach kept more or less intact. This project is currently off the table due to a decision by the Long Beach City Council against the project.

In early 2006 it was announced that the proposed federal budget for 2007 contained $1.7 million for the Army Corps of Engineers to research erosion and how to resupply the beaches with sand from Fire Island to Montauk Point (FIMP). All three Surfrider Foundation chapters in New York, as well as The Nature Conservancy of New York, Audubon New York, NRDC, Sierra Club - Long Island Group and other environmental organizations sent a letter to New York's congressional representatives to encourage the Corps and their local project partners to consider and adopt alternative strategies to erosion control rather than the usual beach fill and hard structures. The organizations want the FIMP project to focus on more long-term sustainable, and natural solutions to beach erosion, climate change & sea level rise. Ten years later (2016) the Army Corps of Engineers was still working on this project, officially releasing the more than 400-page Draft Re-evaluation Report with the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Fire Island Inlet to Montauk Point, NY, Coastal Storm Risk Management Project. This generated some press. More info.

Work began in late December 2008 on $36 million worth of beach fill projects on Fire Island. This work consists of two separate projects. The first is at Smith Point and Cupsogue County Parks, with 460,000 cubic yards of sand dredged from Moriches Islet. Separately, 11 communities from Saltaire to Davis Park are planning to add millions of cubic yards of sand to their beaches with the sand coming from offshore borrow areas about a mile south.

Major beach fill projects in New York are conducted at the State/Federal level, but local (County or municipality) participation is required. The cost share is 65% federal, 24.5% state, and 10.5% local. Funding for public projects includes the cost of monitoring. The work is usually conducted by ACOE, but some state monitoring (by the Department of Environmental Conservation) also occurs. Monitoring usually includes profile surveys, air photos, and wave measurements. Permits for private fill projects often include some monitoring requirements.[3]

Since 1994 there have been seven privately funded projects. In approximately the same time period there have been three public beach fill projects, and two of these have been re-filled. The public projects have been much larger both in volume of sand placed and geographic scope.

The website of the New York District of ACOE has information on Coastal Storm Damage Reduction and Navigation projects in New York.

Information on beach fill projects is available by request from the NY District of ACOE or from DEC Bureau of Flood Protection.

The state does not have a long-term beach fill plan. NYDOS staff advocate preparation of comprehensive plans for managing development risk and beaches, with beach fill considered as one possible alternative, but emphasizing non-structural measures and the location of development in secure locations over the course of time.[4]

Figures cited in an article in USA Today (November 10, 2003) on beach fill indicated that the federal government has spent $830 million over the last 75 years on beach fill projects in New York.

Funding appropriated for beach fill in any year is part of the public record, and is available from the Department of Environmental Conservation, or from the Division of the Budget.


Information on beach fill in New York is also available through Western Carolina University's Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines. State-by-state information is available from the pull-down menu or by clicking on a state on the map on this page.

In 2017 the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA) announced a new online National Beach Nourishment Database – featuring data on projects comprised of nearly 1.5 billion cubic yards of sand placed in nearly 400 projects covering the continental U.S. coastline. In addition to the total volume and the number of projects, the database includes the number of nourishment events, the oldest project, the newest project, the known total cost, the total volume and the known length. The information is broken into both state statistics and those of local or regional projects. Every coastal continental state is included (so Alaska and Hawaii are still being compiled), and projects along the Great Lakes are similarly waiting to be added.

A report National Assessment of Beach Nourishment Requirements Associated with Accelerated Sea Level Rise (Leatherman, 1989) on EPA's Climate Change Impacts and Adapting to Climate Change websites notes that the cumulative cost of sand replenishment to protect New York's coast from a 50 to 200 cm rise in sea level by 2100 is estimated at $770 million - $2.581 billion.

The Fiscal Year 2017 Civil Works Budget for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provides $4.62 billion in gross discretionary funding for the Civil Works program. This budget lists proposed projects and the associated budget justification by state.

State, Territory, and Commonwealth Beach Nourishment Programs: A National Overview (2000) is a report NOAA/OCRM that provides an overview of the problem of beach erosion, various means of addressing this problem, and discusses issues regarding the use of beach nourishment. Section 2 of the report provides an overview of state, territorial, and commonwealth coastal management policies regarding beach nourishment and attendant funding programs. Appendix B provides individual summaries of 33 beach nourishment programs and policies.


Contact

Barry Pendergrass
New York State Department of State
Office of Coastal, Local Government and Community Sustainability
99 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12231
Phone: (518) 486-3277
Email: Barry.Pendergrass@dos.state.ny.us

Lynn Bocamazo
New York District of the US Army Corps of Engineers

Roman Rakoczy, PE
Unit Head
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Phone: 518-402-8139
Email: dowinfo@gw.dec.state.ny.us

Jay Tanski
New York State Sea Grant
Phone: 516-632-8730

Footnotes

  1. Written communication from Fred Anders, NYSDOS. February 15, 2001
  2. Written communication from Fred Anders, NYSDOS. February 15, 2001.
  3. Fred Anders, NYSDOS. Surfrider State of the Beach survey response. January 9, 2003.
  4. Fred Anders, NYSDOS. Surfrider State of the Beach survey response. January 9, 2003.



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