Asbury Park Beach Replenishment Program is Doing More Harm than Good

Major backlash has come from the environmental damages and dangers created from the Jersey Shore replenishment plan founded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers developed a plan for beach replenishments along the Jersey Shore due to post-Sandy damages. From Asbury Park to Avon, beaches will be pumped with more sand in order to extend where the water meets the landline. This extension will act as a buffer to protect the beach towns from extreme storm damages. The project estimated to cost $18.3 million dollars, which was approved by Congress for Sandy Relief.

The replenishment program will last until 2048, according the Asbury Park Press, with the sand being pumped onto the beaches every six years. The Asbury Park Press also released that the project covering from Sea Bright to Manasquan will cost around $300 million dollars, with roughly $100 million of it coming from NJ taxpayers pockets.

Replenishments also bring about environmental damage to the ecosystems and the marine life within these beach areas. Protestors from environmental organizations, civic groups, surfers, anglers and residents of the beach town gathered in Asbury on Friday March 21, to rally against the project.

Dr. Michael Phillips-Anderson, assistant professor of communication said, “The beaches are obviously a huge part of the shore’s economy. The environmental concern is that what might make the beach better to sit on will hurt the overall environment and wildlife. With significant public attention and education, it is unlikely that residents will get a say in the Army Corps of Engineers’ plan.”

The group called for a change to the replenishment project, claiming that every beach has a different need for it to be repaired. For their beaches, according to the Asbury Park Sun, they were against the “groin modifications, known as notching,” a process that calls for the removal of sections of rock found, typically the jetty, closest to the beach. The town worries that this removal will cause a blockage to The Deal Lake Flume.

Blockage to the Flume will cause damages to the costal areas. Having control over the flow through the Flume is important for the towns of Asbury Park, Ocean Township, Neptune Township, Deal, Allenhurst, Interlaken, and Loch Arbour are all bordered on the Flume. If there is no control over the waterways of the Flume then it could cause a flood like the one in 1990s. The towns experienced flooding in 1990s due to, too much water during high tides and an eight-day span of rain.

Dan Roman, a junior political science major said, “We shouldn’t try to control the environment.”

Congressman Frank Pallone is a supporter of the replenishment and addressed the protestors concerns in a statement released on March 21. In his announcement he said, “I have also heard concerns regarding sand building up in the Deal Lake Flume, causing a blockage of the flow between the lake and ocean.”

Pallone continued, “I have raised this issue with the Army corps and they are planning to monitor the flume and clear any sediment buildup that occurs throughout the project. We will also look at the possibility of reconfiguring the placement of sand in the area adjacent to the flume. One long-term solution may be to extend the Deal Lake Flume to limit the amount of sand that can block its flow.”

“One of the issues that makes this difficult is the multi-jurisdictional set up in New Jersey. When so many towns share one body of water it can be hard to coordinate actions. It also makes it difficult to communicate effectively with the public. Environmental issues have been a concern following Sandy, but it seems to fail to generate much media attention,” said  Phillips-Anderson.

According to nj.com, the project has had influence over the Deal Lake Flume, which is an 85-year-old tube that flows water between the lake and the Atlantic Ocean. If the groin modification is successful then the areas around the lack have an increased risk in flooding and a decrease in fish.

If the Flume was blocked, then the fish would no longer be able to gain access to the lake. This causes an upset for the ecosystem that is developed. According to nj.com, the flume is a breeding ground for herring, which the largemouth bass has become dependent on for food, in return the bass have become popular among the town anglers.

Notching would also create dangerous environments for the blackfish, stripers, and fluke that form their habitats around the submerged areas of the jetties. Also when the modifications are made the removal of the stones would be at the jetty’s base, a take away the access to fishing off of them from the anglers.

More than just the fishing industry will be affected, however, the sand replenishment process will ultimately make the ocean more dangerous to swim in. Through filling in the shore, replenishment causes a change in where the ocean bottom and the shoreline clash, making a curt change in the ocean bottom for swimmers. According to Asbury Park Press the sand will form a sort of cliff that will trap people in during high tide, and potentially injuring swimmers, surfers, and kayakers.

Pallone commented, “Many of you in attendance have reached out to me to express your concerns with the proposed project. I understand your concerns with respect to notching the groins in this area and the impacts this may have on recreational fishing. I am discussing this issue with the Army Corps of Engineers and trying to find a resolution that does not negatively impact fisherman in the area.”

In the statement Pallone asked all concerned to express in a formal submission through e-mail to Jenifer Thalhauser of the Army Corp Engineers, with a deadline on March 26.

An anonymous senior political  science student said, “It is being hastily done, we need to examine the enviormental impacts more along with alternative methods that won’t cause such impacts.”