Is it Time to Let New Jersey's Beaches Go Natural?

For decades, New Jersey's coastal communities have been the beneficiaries of artificial beach nourishment, at great expense. After Sandy washed away hundreds of million of dollars of sand, some are suggesting it's time for a strategic retreat.
pmarkham / Flickr

Superstorm Sandy has turned a spotlight on the long simmering debate over the artificial maintenance of beaches along New Jersey's coast with sand pumped from offshore. After Sandy swept away "enormous quantities of sand," both proponents and opponents of "artificial beach nourishment" are reconsidering the practice, reports Cornelia Dean.

"Opponents of beach nourishment argue that undeveloped beaches deal well with storms. Their sands shift; barrier islands may even migrate toward the mainland. But the beach itself survives, because buildings and roads do not pin it down," says Dean. "By contrast, replenishment projects often wash away far sooner than expected. The critics say the best answer to coastal storms is to move people and buildings away from the water, a tactic some call strategic retreat."

"Supporters of these projects counter that beaches are infrastructure - just like roads, bridges and sewer systems - that must be maintained. They say beaches attract tourists and summer residents, conferring immense economic benefits that more than outweigh the costs of the projects. Also, they argue, these beaches absorb storm energy, sparing buildings inland."

 

Full Story: Costs of Shoring Up Coastal Communities

Comments

building block set

NEW! Build the world you want to see

Irresistible block set for adults when placed on a coffee table or desk, and great fun for kids.
$25
Red necktie with map of Boston

For dads and grads: tie one on to celebrate your city!

Choose from over 20 styles imprinted with detailed city or transit maps.
$44.95
Book cover of Where Things Are from Near to Far

Where Things Are From Near to Far

This engaging children's book about planning illustrates that "every building has its place."
$19.95
AICP CTP Storefont Display

The first online AICP* CTP exam prep class

Are you ready to take the AICP* Certified Transportation Planner exam?
Priced at $245 for May exam!