Beach nourishment is the process by which sand is brought by a dredge from offshore sand sources and pumped onto a beach. The sand is placed according to an engineered plan with specific criteria for a built beach (berm) and storm protection. Beach nourishment helps maintain the wide sandy beaches that protect upland areas, mitigate erosion, provide storm protection and habitat, and are a vital economic resource for coastal communities such as Duck.

To learn more about how beach nourishment projects work, click here for an informative document from the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association.

After completion of the 2017 Beach Nourishment Project, the Town of Duck has endured multiple coastal storms, including Hurricane Dorian, Hurricane Florence, and several destructive seasonal Nor’easters. These coastal systems have contributed to the erosional state along the Town’s oceanfront, requiring the town to plan for a renourishment project to maintain a quality and protective coastline.

Project construction – i.e., dredging – for the renourishment project is anticipated to begin in the spring of 2022. Exact dates won’t be known until the project is bid and a dredging company is under contract. The exact date of work on any portion of beach will be communicated as accurately as possible during the project but is subject to various factors including weather.

Dredging typically occurs over the summer months because the ocean is much calmer this time of year in comparison to the winter season. Calm waters also create a safer environment for crews working on the offshore dredge. During the winter months rough sea conditions can frequently shut down dredging operations, driving up project costs and decreasing productivity.

In addition to posting on the Town of Duck website, Dare County maintains the More Beach to Love website, which will provide project information for all project areas in the county.

In order to receive a permit for a beach nourishment project, such as the one that the Town of Duck proposes, many items must be completed. These include, but are not limited to, offshore sand sampling and compatibility analysis, sand borrow area survey sampling and compatibility analysis, updating models related to shoreline change rates and storm damage, and completing environmental documentation and assessments, which included mandatory comment periods. These items must be completed before the Town may submit permit applications. Once permits are submitted for review, various State and Federal agencies require sufficient time to comment on the applications and the Town must review and respond to those comments. The Town has submitted its Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) Major permit application and the Army Corps of Engineers permit application and expects they will be issued in July/August of 2021. An update on permitting and project status was given at the 2021 Town Council Retreat in February 2021. View the recording here.

Easements are required and being secured from all oceanfront properties where sand will be placed. The easement is required solely for activities related to the construction and maintenance of the project including sand placement and associated earthwork, installation of sand fencing, and planting of beach grass associated with the project. The easements provide the town and its contractors with the ability to work in the area of the beach generally waterward of the dune vegetation line, erosion escarpment, or toe of the frontal or primary dune for the life of the project. The easements are not used for the purpose of acquiring public beach access in the project area. All 120 easements requited for the 2017 project were finalized by early 2016 and most were perpetual in nature. Any remaining temporary easements are on track to be recorded before the start of the 2022 project.

The easement is for the purpose of constructing and maintaining the project. It does not change the boundaries of your property, convey property to the Town, or change your ability to access or use the property as you currently do, except in limited instances during the construction phase of the project. You are still allowed to maintain private access to the beach. However, because this project involves the design and construction of an engineered beach profile, certain restrictions with regard to hardened structures will continue and beach pushes are no longer permitted within the project area.

Project construction – i.e., dredging – for the renourishment project is anticipated to begin in the spring of 2022. Exact dates won’t be known until the project is bid and a dredging company is under contract. The exact date of work on any portion of beach will be communicated as accurately as possible during the project but is subject to various factors including weather.

Dredging typically occurs over the summer months because the ocean is much calmer this time of year in comparison to the winter season. Calm waters also create a safer environment for crews working on the offshore dredge. During the winter months rough sea conditions can frequently shut down dredging operations, driving up project costs and decreasing productivity.

The 2017 Town of Duck beach nourishment project was funded through revenue derived from the Dare County Beach Nourishment Fund (a 2% occupancy tax) and a combination of General Fund appropriation and Municipal Service Districts (MSDs). That is, the Town’s portion of the cost of the project was funded by a contribution from all of the taxpayers in Duck (no tax increase occurred for this portion of the funding) with additional funding provided by property owners in the project area, both oceanfront and non-oceanfront (MSDs).The Town issued Special Obligation Bonds to pay its portion of the project cost with debt service for the bonds to be paid back over a five-year term, ending in FY 2022.

The proposed 2022 project will still depend upon revenue from MSD taxes to pay debt service for a five-year bond we will issue to cover approximately $2.5 million of the $8 million project. Of the total project, $2.97 million, or 37% is being reimbursed by FEMA as this is the estimate of the damage caused by Dorian. We were awarded a $1.45 million grant from NC Division of Water Resources for our project and the County will cover $1.04 million, or 13% of our total project cost.

A Municipal Service District (MSD) is a tax district where property owners in the district are taxed at a higher rate to fund improvements (in this case beach nourishment) that are of a direct benefit to property owners in the affected district. Effective July 1, 2016, the Town implemented two MSDs to generate revenue to assist in funding debt service payments on the Town’s Beach Nourishment Project. The first, MSD-A, includes all oceanfront and non-oceanfront properties between the Army Corps of Engineers property North to just North of Oyster Catcher Lane, while MSD-B consists of all ocean front properties.

The original rates associated with these MSDs were, in FY 2020-21, determined to no longer be necessary to fund the debt for the 2017 project so the rates were adjusted to a level that continues to cover debt service. Specifically, estimated debt service principal costs for the renourishment project were proposed to be divided equally between MSD-A (all properties in the project area) and MSD-B (only oceanfront properties in the project area) while accounting for a percentage of needed revenue from other general fund sources.

In Fiscal Year 2020-21 the tax rate for MSD-A dropped to $0.1296 and MSD-B to $0.285 due to both the revaluation and the adjustment in the amount of funding required to meet debt obligations. In order to fund the final debt service payment for the 2017 project, the rates for both MSDs are proposed to remain unchanged in the FY 2021-22 budget. Maintenance of the project through renourishment is expected to occur in calendar year 2022 and the actual debt service payments, beginning in FY 2022-23 will require continued collection of MSD taxes at rates set during the preparation of that budget approximately a year from now.

Debt service costs and other associated project costs for the renourishment project are paid from the Beach Nourishment Capital Reserve Fund which receives revenue from MSD taxes and, per State Statute, a percentage of our total sales tax revenue. This percentage is the same ratio as the MSD tax levy is to the total tax levy. Of the total $1.5 million in budgeted revenue for this fund in FY 2021-22, 42% comes from MSD-A (all properties in the project area), 23% from MSD-B (only oceanfront properties in the project area), 21% in sales tax (Town general fund) revenue, and 14% from Dare County.

Because the properties in the two MSDs benefit more directly from the beach nourishment project than those properties not located in the project area, it was logical that the property owners in the project area should pay additional taxes for the construction of the beach nourishment project. In addition to protecting the properties immediately adjacent to the beach in the project area, the beach was designed to provide for a dry beach area in all normal tidal conditions, thus allowing for the enjoyment of the beach for all users in the project area. By providing property protection and a dry beach, it is expected that both property values and rental rates will stabilize and remain competitive with other areas of the Town and the County.

The 2017 beach nourishment project was one of the first, and largest, non-federal beach nourishment projects in the Country that involved the placement of over 3.9 million CY of sand along 8.2 miles of oceanfront in four different coastal communities. This collaborative approach between County and local municipalities is now seen as a model for how local communities can achieve sustainable coastal management programs. In fact, the 2017 project received the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association’s Best Restored Beaches award for 2018.

The upcoming 2022 project will continue to use this cooperative model. The Dare County communities of Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, and Kill Devil Hills are currently in the process of working with an engineering firm to design and permit the proposed 2022 project collaboratively in order to achieve considerable time and cost savings. Through a collaborative partnership between the Towns and Dare County, both County and local funds will be leveraged to construct the beach nourishment projects saving millions of dollars in construction costs. In addition, all four Towns and the County regularly meet to communicate and work together on developing a plan that continues to communicate information regarding the project to the public. The website morebeachtolove.com hosts information on all of the nourishment projects occurring in Dare County.

Construction of the June 2017 project utilized sand from a borrow source located approximately 4.6 miles offshore from the Town of Duck and required approximately 1,180,000 cubic yards of sand for completion. For the upcoming Beach Renourishment Project, the Town’s consultants, Coastal Planning and Engineering, identified an area offshore – referred to as “Borrow Area A – which holds more than the 254,000 cubic yards of sand necessary to complete this project. This borrow site is located between 5.0 and 6.5 miles offshore of the towns of Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head in water depths between 50 and 60 feet. It is expected that sand for the 2022 project will be sourced in the same manner.

Coastal Protection Engineering of North Carolina, Inc. is contracted to provide the Town of Duck with the professional services associated with the design and permitting of the 2022 beach renourishment project. More specifically, CPE-NC will be providing project management, completion of required environmental documentation and permitting, coordination of agencies throughout the permitting process, and conduction of beach fill engineering analysis and design.

The dredging contractor will be announced once the bidding process for the project is completed.

The beach renourishment project is designed to sustain a minimum of five years protection before maintenance, or rather another beach nourishment project, is required. This period is influenced strongly by the number and strength of hurricanes, storms, and nor’easters. At the end of the 5-year period, it is expected that some or all of the project will be renourished.

Please refer to the Town’s website for additional information sources on the project.  In addition, you may call (252.255.1234) or email Drew Havens, Town Manager (dhavens@townofduck.com), Sandy Cross, Senior Planner (scross@townofduck.com) or Christian Legner, Public Information Officer (clegner@townofduck.com).