The Currituck County Board of Commissioners received the conclusions of a three-year Shoreline Stability Study that analyzed the county’s 22 miles of Atlantic Ocean coastline.
During the Board’s retreat on February 3, 2023, Ken Willson of Coastal Protection Engineering of North Carolina, Inc. presented the project’s final report.
This study assessed the short-term shoreline and volumetric changes to the county’s shoreline in 2020, 2021, and 2022. It also provided long-term projections over 10-, 20-, and 30-year periods and a vulnerability analysis of existing structures located near the coast.
Highlights of the final report include predictions of no significant impacts in the Carova or Pine Island sections based on projected shoreline change rates over a 30-year period. The section with the greatest number of projected impacts to structures over the next 30 years is Corolla, from the 4WD beach access point south to the Ocean Lake community in Ocean Sands.
The study also assessed the volumetric changes of sand from the dune line to a minimum depth of 6’ under water. Some areas experienced gains in sand volume, including Carova, Reserve/Wildlife Refuge, and Corolla. However, the section at Pine Island experienced a loss in volume.
With the final report in hand, Currituck County will take important steps in the near future to ensure the well-being of the coastline: (1) The county will continue to monitor the beach profile, particularly in areas of high projected impacts to structures and sections that experienced a loss in volumetric change; and (2) The county will develop a Beach Management Plan, which may include options for beach nourishment projects in certain areas.
Commissioners have established one key factor in the Beach Management Plan: That no tax payments from any property owner on mainland Currituck will be used to pay for beach nourishment projects. Any potential beach nourishment projects would be funded by occupancy tax, federal or state grants, or a possible service district tax for owners of property in Corolla and the 4WD area.
For many years, Currituck County has taken steps to protect the beaches and coastline. Steps include local laws protecting dune structures, traffic regulations on the 4WD beach, limiting the number of vehicles allowed on the 4WD beach in the peak tourist season, storm mitigation and recovery practices, and a dune vegetation and sand fencing grant program available to property owners.
The beaches and coastal areas are important to Currituck County’s heritage, environment, tourism industry, and quality of life for residents. The Board of Commissioners is committed to protecting the coastline and ensuring healthy beaches. To view the Shoreline Stability Study, please visit the county website at https://currituckcountync.gov/shoreline-stability-study/.