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Comparison of Beach Nourishment along the U.S. Atlantic, Great Lakes, Gulf of Mexico, and New England Shorelines

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The U.S. national beach nourishment experience is summarized for the East Coast barrier islands, the Gulf of Mexico, New England, and the Great Lakes. A total of 1,305 nourishment episodes on 382 beaches are recorded at a total estimated cost of approximately $1.4 billion ($2.5 billion in 1996 dollars). In terms of both volume and costs, nourishment has been the most extensive by far on the East Coast barrier islands. Depending on the region, between 65% and 85% of all nourishment projects have a federal funding component. Annual expenditures and sand volumes for beach nourishment are increasing, especially on East Coast barriers. At present, total annual national beach nourishment costs (excluding the Pacific Coast) are on the order of $100 million per year. The cost per cubic yard of nourishment sand as expressed in 1996 dollars has remained more or less constant over time. Additionally, the volumes of sand needed for subsequent nourishment episodes on individual beaches do not decrease, despite contrary assumptions in the shoreface-profile-ofequilibrium concept that subsequent nourishment volumes should diminish. In light of the historical experience of beach nourishment identified in this study, individual state and local coastal communities should reevaluate their plans for future beach nourishment programs. The complete listing of all the data on nourished beaches from this survey is available at
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 October 1999

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