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Op/Ed: 'Nourish Quogue's Beaches or Breach'

John J. Post, the president of the Save The Dunes and Beaches Foundation, explains why Quogue's Beaches need to be built up.

Sand bags exposed after Superstorm Sandy in Quogue. Credit: File photo
Sand bags exposed after Superstorm Sandy in Quogue. Credit: File photo
Editor's Note: The following was written and submitted to Westhampton-Hampton Bays Patch by John J. Post, the president of the Save The Dunes and Beaches Foundation.

The Village of Quogue’s oceanfront faces serious peril. A small group of people would have you believe all is well, that you need not be concerned. History and science offer a much different, very disturbing story.

Shinnecock Inlet, was an ocean breach created by the 1938 hurricane. The erosion Quogue has suffered is a direct result of the jetty system constructed at Shinnecock Inlet which prevents 50% of the sand naturally moving east to west along the oceanfront to ever reach the Quogue Village beaches.

Shinnecock Inlet has stolen over 11,000,000 cubic yards of sand from Quogue Village’s 2.7 miles of beach, eroding sand at the rate of 60,000 cubic yards per year---over 200 tons per day. This un-natural condition has deposited this sand in Shinnecock Bay, the offshore shoals at Shinnecock Inlet, and in Southampton to the east of the Inlet.

The Quogue beach erosion is relentless. One result is a beach with less sand, a beach that is lower and narrower. Where will citizens sit at high tide? Second, and most serious, the next major hurricane could very well cause a wash over reaching the canal followed by a breach, a devastating environmental catastrophe that will flood and immobilize the mainland. Note the Little Pike Inlet in 1992 into Moriches Bay. Conditions have become even more hazardous with rising sea levels and increased severity of storms.

“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining…” For Quogue Village to ignore this simple adage about its beaches invites a crisis.

Beach nourishment, pumping compatible, tested sand from the ocean floor onto the beach, is a proven, recognized method to protect the barrier island and the mainland. There are many effective “case studies” along the east coast (including one of our neighbors, West Hampton Dunes). It is a cost justifiable, responsible approach to avoid loss of beach and a breach.

All available scientific analysis shows that adjacent beaches in Westhampton will actually benefit by beach nourishment in Quogue since sand moves from east to west. There is no scientific evidence that beach nourishment increases the erosion of adjacent beaches.

It is a scientific fact that the sand borrow site to be utilized to widen the Quogue beaches and increase the height of the dunes is beyond ocean wave action. These ocean floor borrow sites were specifically chosen because ocean waves do not move the sediment on the sea bottom at these sites. Detailed scientific studies by universities and government agencies have concluded that the ocean ecosystem in the borrow areas recovers within six-to-twelve months. The ocean beach ecosystem similarly recovers rapidly and the wider, higher beaches are actually a net benefit to the coastal ecosystem.

Quogue Village beaches are blessed with approximately 30,000,000 cubic yards of off shore compatible sand that is accessible. Using 1,100,000 cubic yards of sand to nourish our beaches will not hasten a crisis or deprive Quogue of needed sand in the future. The notion that nourished sand disappears at a higher rate than naturally placed sand is not correct.

No one can predict with certainty how many years a nourished beach will remain healthy. However wider, higher beaches and larger dunes will greatly improve protection to our barrier island and mainland when the inevitable storm hits. Pro-active nourishment will significantly lower the risk of a breach.

(Even if homes did not exist on Dune Road---the rate of beach erosion would remain the same, and the challenge would still have to be addressed to protect the mainland. Homes on Dune Road did not create erosion and do not accelerate this condition.)

Save The Dunes And Beaches Foundation, Inc., an approved 501(c)3 not-for-profit community organization, studied many methods to halt erosion. Options include: rock seawalls and offshore breakwaters.   Coastal specialists state that installation of bulkheads on oceanfront properties promotes backwash of sand and further erosion of the beach.

Beach nourishment is by far the best way to accomplish this goal, being a proven economical, environmental solution endorsed by numerous municipalities and government agencies. Indeed, Quogue Village will only receive a permit for this work after a proper environmental review. Our goal is to protect and benefit all Quogue residents by rebuilding the beach and preventing a breach.

The present oceanfront erosion is not natural. To wait for nature to remedy this is to deny reality to the point of irresponsibility. Truly concerned Quogue property owners understand that the strong risk of an ocean breach will cause significant environmental damage and dysfunction---while beach restoration will cause none and substantially reduce this threat.

We urge all Quogue residents to support beach nourishment based on facts. The erosion is relentless. Reject those opinions that deliberately misinform. If we protect the dunes and beaches---then the dunes and beaches will in turn, protect us all.

— JOHN J. POST, PRESIDENT, SAVE THE DUNES AND BEACHES FOUNDATION, INC.

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bchbum11968 December 30, 2013 at 12:57 PM
That is proof sandbags and other hard structures do NOT work. remove the bags, put this years Christmas trees in their place and plant beach grass.

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