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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

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SIC, Army Corps Monitor ‘Severe’ Townsend’s Inlet Erosion

By Camille Sailer

SEA ISLE CITY – Business Administrator George Savastano briefed Sea Isle City Council, at its Sept. 28 meeting, on “severe” beach and dune erosion happening in Townsend’s Inlet. 
“The Army Corps of Engineers (ACE), the federal agency that oversees beach replenishment projects along the Jersey Shore through its ‘project monitoring’ responsibilities, is surveying our oceanside beaches, with the goal to see if they are eroding, growing or holding steady,” Savastano explained. 
With severe erosion occurring on the bayside of the Townsend’s Inlet Bridge, at the southern edge of Sea Isle, ACE will expand this monitoring program, he continued.
In earlier informationprovided to council, ACE stated its previous survey was completed on the oceanside of the bridge, but with the newly serious erosion at the bayside, this area is being added to its monitoring. 
ACE conducts surveys of areas where it previously completed beach fills intending to compare data to past years and analyze trends in erosion.
“We’re still not sure why the dunes on the bayside of the bridge have been subsiding and sand, trees, and rocks caving in,” said Savastano. “We’ve posted notices warning of possibly dangerous conditions for beachgoers and fishing visitors and also installed a barrier to fence off the problem areas. 
“This area is classified as a marine forest, and it’s very important to Sea Isle’s natural beauty, so we are doing everything possible to protect it,” he added.
Townsend’s Inlet is known as a swift-running channel of water that divides Sea Isle from Avalon and links the ocean with the bay. It is also a force of change to the shorelines it abuts, causing re-shaping each year, frequently dramatic in removing sand or creating large sandbars. 
This year, according to Savastano, the changes were more noticeable than past years, with more serious beach erosion of scarping, or calving, of sand dunes creating drop-off cliffs, sometimes 30 feet high from beach level.
At previous meetings, city administration and council members discussed short-term solutions, such as “sand harvesting” – taking sand from where it is plentiful – and use it to fill in the erosion at Townsend’s Inlet. 
Savastano mentioned that longer-term solutions centering on ACE involvement would be more time-consuming and need environmental permitting. 
ACE would also only provide technical assistance and monitoring since the bayside bridge area is outside its purview.
During public comment, a representative of the Townsend Shoals condominium complex, near 94th Street, said owners are anxious about the situation around the bridge and hope the city continues to work toward improving the situation.   
To contact Camille Sailer, email csailer@cmcherald.com.

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