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The Ins and Outs of Beach Nourishment

A new publication from WHOI Sea Grant's extension program gives guidance on beach nourishment


Beaches, if they are to persist, rely on an ongoing supply of sediment. When that doesn’t occur naturally, sand can be brought in to a beach to replenish or “nourish” it.

Beach nourishment prevents downstream beaches from losing their sources of sand, maintaining the beach's ability to protect the coastline from storm surge and reduce the impact of waves.  In coastal areas, certain projects meant to stabilize the shoreline, like revetments and seawalls, can disrupt the natural movement of sand, causing erosion and depletion of sand on the beach. To counteract this, the guide emphasizes the importance of compensatory nourishment to maintain the shape, size, and height of the beach. This is crucial for protecting developed areas from storm damage and preserving the habitats of plants and animals.

A new publication from WHOI Sea Grant and Cape Cod Cooperative extension, “Beach Nourishment Guide for Homeowners,” is designed to help people involved in beach nourishment projects, such as conservation commissions, property owners, and consultants by gathering and simplifying the rules and advice related to these projects.