Kana, T.W., and Kaczkowski, H.L., 2019 “Myrtle Beach: A history of shore protection and beach restoration”, Shore & Beach, 87(3), 13-34. https://doi.org/10.34237/1008732
Myrtle Beach: A history of shore protection and beach restoration
Timothy W. Kana and Haiqing Liu Kaczkowski
Coastal Science & Engineering, Inc. (CSE), 160 Gills Creek Parkway, Columbia, SC 29209
The City of Myrtle Beach (South Carolina, USA) initiated a three-phase plan for beach restoration in the 1980s: Phase 1 — small-scale beach scraping; Phase 2 — mediumscale nourishment by trucks using inland sand; and Phase 3 — large-scale nourishment by dredge using offshore sand. Phases 1 and 2 were locally funded and served as interim measures (1981-1996) until a 50-year federal project could be constructed (1997 to present). In the course of this work, the city pioneered several approaches to beach management and became a model for the state. These include: the prototype SC beach survey program; the profile volume method for determining shorelines in the presence of seawalls, which was codified in the Beach Management Act (BMA) of 1988; the first locally funded nourishment (1986-1987) and FEMA-funded postdisaster renourishment after Hurricane Hugo 1989-1990; and the first surveys of offshore deposits for nourishment. Before restoration, nearly 65% of the 9-mile (14.5 kilometer) oceanfront was armored with seawalls, bulkheads, and revetments (1981). After nourishment, erosion control structures are now buried and fronted by a vegetated storm berm, while a wider beach accommodates millions of visitors each year. Total volumes and adjusted costs of nourishment from 1986 to early 2018 are 4,997,201 cubic yards (3,820,360 m3) and ~$70.8 million ($2018), respectively. On a unit annual beach length basis, the cost of beach restoration and improvement has averaged $46.80 per one foot of shoreline per year (~$153.50/m/yr) ($2018). Oceanfront property values on a unit length of shoreline basis presently range from ~$15,000/ft (~$49,200/m) for single-family homes to ~$75,000/ft (~$250,000/m) for high-rise buildings, suggesting that beach maintenance has cost well under 0.5% of oceanfront property values per year. Sand loss rates have averaged ~0.8 cy/ft/yr (2.0 m3/m/yr), and the rate of nourishment has been more than adequate to keep up with the ~0.37 ft (0.11 m) sea level rise between 1980 and 2018.