State of the Beach/State Reports/TX/Beach Fill

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Texas Ratings
Indicator Type Information Status
Beach Access86
Water Quality75
Beach Erosion9-
Erosion Response-5
Beach Fill7-
Shoreline Structures5 5
Beach Ecology3-
Surfing Areas45
Website10-


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

Tex. Admin. Code. Tit. 31, §501.14(k)(1)(E). Non-structural response methods such as beach nourishment shall be preferred instead of structural erosion response methods.

Texas Coastwide Erosion Response Plan. Current Erosion Response Policies: State Policies. Policy 2: "Soft" methods of avoiding, slowing, or remedying erosion (such as shoreline vegetation, beach nourishment, and dune reconstruction) are preferred to the construction of hard or rigid shoreline protection structures. Policy 5: Suitable dredged material from commercially navigable waterways should be used beneficially to reduce and minimize erosion, provide shore protection, or benefit the sediment budget or littoral system. The state and local governments may enter into cost-sharing agreements with the Federal government to offset any additional costs from the beneficial use of dredged material.

Texas Coastwide Erosion Response Plan. Current Erosion Response Policies: Gulf Shorelines. Beach Nourishment: Beach nourishment is a method of shore protection that is encouraged by the state legislature. However, finding an economical sand source may be difficult in some gulf shore locations. For the most part, it may be cheaper for local communities to tie into existing Army Corps of Engineers dredging projects for a sediment source.

Related Policies

Near Shore Sand Mining Regulations

Tex. Admin. Code. Tit. 31, §501.14(j)(8). Mining of sand, shell, marl, gravel and mudshell on submerged lands shall be prohibited unless there is an affirmative showing of no significant impact on erosion within the coastal zone and no significant adverse effect on coastal water quality or terrestrial and aquatic wildlife habitat within any coastal natural resource area.

Dredge and Fill Regulations

Tex. Admin. Code. Tit. 31, §155.24(c)(15)(A)(iii). Requires that a draft environmental impact statement be prepared for projects involving dredging, excavating, filling or dredged material deposition. The statement must contain measures that will be taken to reduce adverse environmental impacts, such as keeping erosion at its lowest possible level.

Tex. Admin. Code. Tit. 31, §501.14(j)(4)(B)(i). Dredged material is a potentially reusable resource and must be used beneficially. Factors to be considered in determining whether the costs of the beneficial use are reasonably proportionate to the benefits include erosion prevention benefits.

Tex. Admin. Code. Tit. 31, §501.14(j)(4)(C)(i). Beneficial use of dredged materials includes projects designed to reduce or minimize erosion or to provide shoreline protection.

Dune Creation/Restoration Regulations

Texas Coastwide Erosion Response Plan. Current Erosion Response Policies: Gulf Shorelines. Dune Construction and Restoration: In places where the dune system has been damaged or destroyed, restoration should be the focus. The Dune Protection and Improvement Manual for the Texas Gulf Coast (GLO, 1991) provides a comprehensive discussion of dune preservation and restoration techniques. [Tex. Admin. Code. Tit. 31, §15.1-15.10].

Public Access Regulations

Tex. Nat. Res. Code Ann. §61.011 et seq. Texas Open Beaches Act. Created to protect the public’s right to “free and unrestricted” access to and from “the state-owned beaches bordering on the seaward shore of the Gulf of Mexico.” Any physical barrier that would impede public access to the beach is prohibited. Government agencies are exempt from the physical barriers prohibition.

Beach Nourishment Funding Program

There is state funding for beach nourishment.

Texas Coastwide Erosion Response Plan. Beach Maintenance Fund. The GLO administers the Beach Maintenance Fund, a state program that reimburses eligible cities and counties for local expenditures to clean and maintain Gulf beaches. Activities eligible for reimbursement under this program include beach nourishment. State hotel occupancy tax monies spent on beach maintenance can not be reimbursed by the Beach Maintenance Fund.

Coastal Management Program (CMP). Erosion response grant funding through the Texas CMP is administered through the Coastal Coordination Council (CCC). Upon federal approval of the CMP, Texas will receive an estimated $2.4 million per year in federal matching funds to implement the program and advance the program’s goals and policies. Because of the focus on shoreline issues in the CMP policies, it is expected that the CMP grants program will help fund erosion response planning, design and construction projects.

House Bill 1536 Section 3. Amends Tex. Nat. Res. Code Ann. §5415e-2, by adding section 6A which allows the Texas Transportation Commission to enter into agreements with the Army Corps of Engineers to share the costs of projects making beneficial use of material dredged from the GIWW. Input into the Texas Transportation Commission’s rulemaking from coastal landowners whose property is endangered by erosion will help ensure that erosion response projects such as beach nourishment receive high priority.

Tex. Nat. Res. Code Ann. §33.604. Coastal Erosion Response Account. This is an account in the general revenue fund that may be appropriated only to the commissioner to be used only for the purpose of implementing coastal erosion studies and projects.

Amount of State Funding

Unknown.

Cost Share Requirements

Unknown."

General Description of Funding

Texas appropriates a portion of the sales taxes generated by sporting goods to support parks and recreation. Since 1993, a portion of the sales tax revenue generated by sporting goods has been statutorily allocated to fund state park operations, capital, and local park grants. Prior to that, state and local parks were each allocated a one cent per pack tax on cigarettes, which may have set the precedent for providing equal allocations to state and local parks. The Sporting Goods Sales Tax allocation was introduced because the cigarette tax proved to be a declining revenue source that bore no relationship to the mission of providing state park services. Beach equipment is not specifically listed among the revenue generating categories (State of Texas, 2008).

Additional Policy Considerations

Policies relating to beach fill and shoreline protection projects include the Texas General Land Office Beach/Dune Rules, Open Beaches Act, Dune Protection Act, Coastal Erosion Planning and Response Act (CEPRA), Texas Natural Resources Code § 33.601-33.612 and rules governing the CEPRA program at Texas Administrative Code Title 31 Natural Resources and Conservation, §15.41-15.44.

With respect to the construction of coastal and shore protection projects Texas law states that:

"Local governments shall encourage carefully planned beach fill and sediment bypassing for erosion response management and prohibit erosion response structures within the public beach and 200 feet landward of the natural vegetation line."


The state allows private property owners adjacent to Gulf beaches to use relocation, fill, and dune restoration projects as erosion response. Bayside property owners may also construct seawalls, revetments, groins, geo-textile tubes, and sandbags. The GLO has regulatory responsibility for these responses. For public land, the state allows fill, geo-textile tubes, and dune restoration as erosion response alternatives on Gulf beaches. Seawalls, revetments, groins, geo-textile tubes, and sandbags may be allowed for bayside public property.[1]

The state has several plans relating to beach fill and shoreline protection. In particular, the CEPRA statute (TNRC §33.602(b)) requires the GLO to maintain a coastal erosion response plan that identifies critical erosion areas and prioritizes coastal erosion response studies and projects. In addition, the Land Commissioner created the Coastal Texas 2020 plan in 2003, the first phase of which resulted in a detailed report breaking the Texas coast into five distinct regions and outlining issues of concern/critical needs and prioritization of action items/projects to address those needs. These reports can be accessed through links on the coastal erosion Web page. These plans are needed because Texas has several coastal areas experiencing severe erosion. Long term, large fill projects appear to be the best and most cost effective responses. Financially, the cost is expensive and must be supported at the state and federal levels, requiring a long-term plan, especially in light of meager sand sources and lack of a permanent, dedicated funding source.

In evaluating beach fill projects, Texas requires the use of beach-quality sand, meaning sand of similar grain size and minerology as would be found in the natural beach environment. There must be no hazardous substances. Removal of sediment can have no adverse effects on flora and fauna.

CEPRA projects are assessed for damage impacts from storms where disasters are declared. There are some monitoring events done in critical erosion areas to help evaluate effectiveness of beach fills and sediment budget needs. Additionally, pre- and post-storm aerial photography is taken every year or two, and shorelines are compared, including those in the vicinity of beach fill projects. Ecological parameters have not been included in the monitoring, although sea turtle nesting may be included in the future.

Inventory

Texas GLO staff believes that long term, large beach fill programs appear to be the best and most cost effective responses to coastal areas that are experiencing severe erosion. They believe that since the cost of these programs is high, they should be supported at the state and federal levels, requiring a long term plan, especially in light of the lack of abundant sand sources and a permanent, dedicated long-term funding source.

Unlike Florida, a state which annually pumps millions of cubic yards of sand from offshore deposits, Texas has far fewer appropriate sources of sand, according to a 2002 Rice University report to the Legislature. Some offshore sites should not be mined because doing so would increase beach erosion. Some sandbars are buried under layers of toxic sediment in bays near heavy industry. And a lot of deposits are mixed with too much mud and shell debris to be useful. The Texas Coastal Sediments Geodatabase (TxSed) is sediment related geospatial and geotechnical data. TxSed can be used to assist in identifying compatible sediment resources for proposed beach nourishment or habitat restoration projects, and can be used as an aid in the permitting/regulatory processes for such projects. Launch TxSED Viewer. In October 2015 an article in The Gilmer Mirror stated that a Texas A&M professor has potentially identified a huge offshore deposit of beach quality sand.

Eddie Fisher, director of Coastal Protection for the GLO, believes that identified sites are adequate to replenish beaches in the approximately 60 miles of developed coastline. Beginning in Cycle 2 (state fiscal years 2002-2003), the CEPRA program has funded numerous sand source study and reconnaissance projects, some coast-wide and others in specific localities as part of a long-term planning process for ongoing beach fill projects.

The CEPRA program maintains a project location and summary Web page where information may be found concerning all erosion response projects beginning in Cycle 1 (state fiscal year 2000-2001 biennium) through Cycle 6. In addition, details of these projects may also be found in each of the CEPRA legislative reports and other reports. The GLO’s Coastal Resources program area Coastal Protection Division also reports project construction performance measure information to the Texas Legislative Budget Board.

The general coastal erosion Web page is found at: http://www.glo.texas.gov/what-we-do/caring-for-the-coast/coastal-erosion/index.html

Beaches that have been replenished more than once over the last 10 years include:

  • South Padre Island — 5 projects on various stretches
  • Corpus Christi Beach — 2 projects
  • West Galveston Island — 3 projects on various stretches
  • Rollover Pass/Bolivar Peninsula — 9 projects on various stretches annually since CEPRA Cycle 1
  • Surfside — 3 projects


A January 2003 report to the Texas Legislature from the Texas Coastal Coordination Council concluded that "large scale beach nourishment projects are needed at the Town of South Padre Island, the Town of Quintana Beach, the Village of Surfside Beach, Follet's Island, West Galveston Island, Galveston Seawall, Bolivar Peninsula, and the Highway 87 area in Jefferson County."

The latest report (2011) identifies "erosion response needs" that include:

  • Beach Nourishment – Sea Isle, 5500 Association, Kahala Beach, and Terramar
  • Bermuda Beach Dune Restoration and Beach Access Plan
  • Bolivar Ferry Landing/Little Beach Nourishment with BUDM
  • Indian Beach Dune and Public Walkover Restoration Project
  • Karankawa Dune Restoration Project
  • Sargent Beach Dune and Beach Restoration Project
  • West Galveston Island 7.3 Mile Dune Restoration


State funding for erosion hazard response activities, including beach fill and natural dune restoration projects, is currently $17.2 million for the present Cycle 5 from a Designated Fund — Coastal Protection Account. This funding is appropriated biennially, with five cycles granted thus far.[2]

The state has budgeted for beach fill projects in the approximate amounts indicated below:

  • 2000-2001 – a portion of $15 million ~ 40% spent on renourishment
  • 2002-2003 – a portion of $15 million ~ 40% spent on renourishment
  • 2004-2005 – a portion of $7.2 million ~ 40% spent on renourishment
  • 2006-2007 - a portion of $7.2 million ~ 42% spent on renourishment
  • 2008-2009 - a portion of $17.2 million ~ 68% spent on renourishment


The Texas Land Commissioner requested about $45 million from the state for the fiscal year 2010-2011 biennium to help restore beaches after Hurricane Ike in 2008.

The 81st Texas Legislature allocated approximately $14.1 million in state appropriated funding for CEPRA Cycle 6 projects for the FY2010-2011 biennium that runs from September 1, 2009 through August 31, 2011.

Texas announced in September 2009 that it was embarking on the biggest coastal protection effort in state history to attempt to fight beach erosion and defend against future hurricanes. The $135.4 million plan comes one year after Hurricane Ike's powerful storm surge damaged thousands of homes in Galveston, the neighboring Bolivar Peninsula and other communities across southeast Texas. The Sept. 13, 2008 hurricane also scoured away beaches, submerged marshes in seawater and ruined thousands of acres of vegetation.

Work was scheduled to begin immediately on 26 projects from South Padre Island in South Texas to McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge on the upper Texas Coast. The biggest project will be a more than $46 million beach renourishment that will replace sand over a stretch of six miles from the west end of Galveston's seawall. Another stretch of Galveston's beaches was replenished earlier in 2009 after being eroded by Ike.
NOTE: As a direct result of an unfavorable court ruling in November 2010, Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson canceled a scheduled $40 million beach fill project in Galveston because state law prohibits the spending of public money to benefit private property.
Update: In September 2015 crews were reported to be working around the clock on a beach fill project scheduled to be finished at the end of October. The project will use 725,000 cubic yards of sand dredged from the Galveston Ship Channel to create 20 blocks of additional beach along the island's seawall between 61st and 81st streets. It's the single largest volume of sand every placed on Galveston Beaches. The $23 million project is a collaborative effort sponsored by the Galveston Park Board, City of Galveston and the Texas General Land Office. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District,which routinely dredges the ship channel every 18-24 months, will place the material on the beach in lieu of offshore.

Other projects include:

  • a $32 million project that will restore dunes along 20 miles of beaches that protect the McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge. The 55,000 acre refuge protects one of the largest remaining freshwater marshes on the Texas Coast.
  • an $18.3 million project to rebuild dunes on Bolivar Peninsula. Ike's storm surge overwhelmed this thin strip of land along the Gulf of Mexico, washing away or damaging 3,600 homes and other structures.
  • a $1 million test project in South Padre Island that will place low profile stabilizers, or concrete filled tubes, underwater in beaches on the north end. The stabilizers are designed to slow down erosion by retaining sand usually lost to waves and currents.


The state is allocating $25 million for the effort. Matching funds from local communities and the federal government is increasing the total to more than $135 million.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District partnered with the Texas General Land Office, Cameron County and the City of South Padre Island to renourish approximately one-half mile of South Padre Island’s beaches using beach-quality sand harvested from a local dredging project in late 2012. A large ocean-going hopper dredge began operations Nov. 3 to use material originating from the Brownsville Harbor navigation channel to renourish the beaches. The dredge was scheduled to work for 20-30 days dredging the Brownsville Channel between the jetties, pumping material on Isla Blanca Park and the beaches of South Padre Island. Approximately 300,000 cubic yards of dredged material was scheduled to be placed on Padre Island beaches.

In 2005 the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association awarded the Town of South Padre Island beaches one of their "Top Restored Beaches" awards.

But beach fill projects can have negative consequences. An example of an apparently failed dredge and beach fill project is one conducted at Isla Blanca Park in March 2011. From an eyewitness account: "For about 2/10ths of a mile the beach looked like a bombed out crater filled with clay balls and clay heavy silt and mud."

On April 2, 2011 the City of South Padre Island and the South Texas Chapter of Surfrider Foundation completed it's final Dune Restoration Planting until fall 2011. 100 volunteers, including students from South Texas College and the University of Texas at Brownsville, Texas Master Naturalists, Winter Visitors, local and students from Port Isabel and Los Fresnos High School planted 9,000 bitter panicum and sea oats plants on the beaches around La Quinta and Sea Breeze condominiums. The following has been accomplished in 5 plantings since December of 2010:

  • 44,000 plants planted
  • Approximately 80,000 square feet of dunes planted
  • 400 volunteers
  • 1200 hours of volunteer time

Read more.

In March 2008 Texas began planning for the biggest beach fill project in state history, presently being initiated under CEPRA Cycle 5. This project initially contemplates the placement of 200 to 300 feet of sand along a three-mile stretch of coastline extending west from the end of the seawall in Galveston, but the GLO anticipates it could be expanded up to six miles in total length. The project was allocated an initial $14.5 million in funding, however the GLO is working to assemble a project budget upwards of $45 million, given that the project area is one of the two fastest-eroding stretches of beach in Galveston County and the extent of damage due to Hurricane Ike. The other fast-eroding stretch of eroding beach in Galveston County is the area around Rollover Pass. Given the effect of erosion on Bolivar Peninsula from Hurricane Ike, especially in the vicinity of the pass, and the ongoing maintenance costs to the USACE due to the effects of the pass on the GIWW, the Land Commissioner is seeking the closure of Rollover Pass. Local property owners and officials have voiced their agreement with the need to close the pass.

Wherever practical, projects funded from the CEPRA account must provide for the placement of material dredged in constructing and maintaining navigation inlets and channels of the state on eroding beaches or for the restoration of eroding wetlands, by determining what is practical from a cost as well as materials quality standpoint. This requirement is codified at TNRC §33.602(d).

The project cost-share match requirement for CEPRA project partners for beach fill projects on public or bay beaches is 25 percent. For marsh restoration, bay shoreline protection projects other than beach fill, or any other coastal erosion response study or project, the match is 40 percent. In addition, the Commissioner of the General Land Office (GLO) may select one proposed large-scale beach fill project on a public beach for each biennium without requiring a local project partner match. The cost of such a project cannot exceed one third of the total amount appropriated to the GLO for coastal erosion planning and response.[3]

The Commissioner may also undertake the funding of one or more erosion response demonstration projects if the state’s portion of the shared project cost does not exceed one-tenth of the total amount appropriated to the GLO for coastal erosion planning and response that biennium.

All projects are monitored for success on a project by project basis. Beginning in CEPRA Cycle 3, projects that proposed less than 10 cubic yards/linear foot were not seriously considered for funding.

The coastal erosion Website also provides a nice description of what is involved in and what to expect from beach fill.

A June 2001 article in the Texas A&M Aggie Daily reports on the efforts of Texas A&M Researcher Tom Ravens. He is studying the results of dredging along Rollover Bay near the Bolivar Peninsula on the Texas coast. The method used for decades involves dredging up huge amounts of sand off the coast and depositing the loads farther out to sea. Ravens wants to see if sand deposited on the beach itself can create more of a barrier to lapping waves and preventing or at least slowing down beach erosion. "It's a beach fill idea that could be one solution to the beach erosion crisis facing many parts of Texas, and for that matter, much of the coastal area of the United States," explains Ravens. "Man-made erosion is a problem that sometimes goes unnoticed. Instead of dumping these huge amounts of sand back into the ocean at another location, we want to try depositing it on the beach itself. We want to study how much of a barrier it creates, and if so, is it a cost-effective plan? There are several big questions we could answer."

The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW) is a huge highway for marine traffic. It stretches from Maine to Brownsville, usually a few miles from a coastline, and is periodically dredged. The dredging activity - deepening and widening the lanes for marine use -- ensures that boats and ships of all sizes can ease their way from one port to another. Most dredging work falls under the jurisdiction of the Corps of Engineers. One concern about dredging is that some areas that are potential sources of fill sand are also important fish habitats. Dredging activity can disrupt fish habitats in some areas, Ravens says, "so it's a concern we need to look at. There could be a potential conflict there." Ravens says that in Texas, more than 500,000 cubic yards have been dredged near Rollover Bay during the last two years and placed on the beach near the Bay study area. "We are interested in monitoring that sand," Ravens explains. "Is it staying on the beach? Is it migrating back into Rollover Bay and the Intracoastal Waterway? Is it being dispersed along the Gulf Coast? These are some questions we hope to answer. If we can add this beach fill procedure to dredging, it could be one possible answer to beach erosion. It's something we need to study, but it has worked in other places, such as North Carolina, where beach erosion is a huge problem. We want to see if it can work in Texas. Some houses are very close to being swept into the gulf. Texas needs to be committed to long-term monitoring and other studies to mount the best possible response to coastal erosion. Without the correct data on how the sediment flows, we may end up proposing the wrong solution."

The state monitors beach fill projects after sand placement by conducting periodic profiles and by comparing pre-construction with post construction and pre-storm event with past-storm event. Monitoring is conducted by GLO, University of Texas — Austin BEG, and Texas A&M University of Galveston.

Information on beach fill in Texas 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 Texas's coast from a 50 to 200 cm rise in sea level by 2100 is estimated at $4.188 billion to $17.608 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.



Contacts

John Gillen
Director
Planning, Permitting & Technical Services
Texas General Land Office
Phone: (512) 463-8664
Email: john.gillen@glo.texas.gov

Natalie Bell
Middle Coast & Lower Coast
512.463.0413

Rajiv Vedamanikam
Upper Coast
512.463.9109

Footnotes

  1. Tammy Brooks, Program Specialist, TCMP. Surfrider State of the Beach survey response. January 27, 2003.
  2. Tammy Brooks, Program Specialist, TCMP. Surfrider State of the Beach survey response. December 2003.
  3. http://www.glo.state.tx.us/coastal/erosion/cycle03/index.html



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