epic shoaling that is clogging the navigational channel at Oregon Inlet
could be kept out of the waterway by a bypass system with jet pumps
that has worked well in Australia, a coastal engineer told the Oregon
Inlet Land Acquisition Task Force on Thursday.
think that would be a very good choice, compared with other solutions,”
said Billy Edge, professor of civil engineering at North Carolina State
it is right now, even frequent dredging of the inlet has not controlled
the sand, leaving frustrated watermen and boaters desperate to find a
way to keep the channel open.
Fearing, Division 1 representative on the North Carolina Board of
Transportation, and a task force member, cut to the chase.
“Do we have the capacity to maintain a navigable channel?” Fearing asked Edge.
“Yes, sir,” the scientist responded.
program head of sustainable coastal engineering at UNC Coastal Studies
Institute, where the meeting was held, said that the project at the
Nerang River, near the town of Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia,
used a series of jet pumps placed about 15 feet apart to capture and
remove sand away from the opening of the river.
has a tremendous amount of energy from waves, a tremendous amount of
sand transport,” he said about the Nerang. “This place is kind of
like Oregon Inlet – there’s a storm all the time.”
inlets also are migrating -- Oregon Inlet, the only passage from ocean
to sound between Virginia and Hatteras, as much as 200 feet a year to
the south and the Nerang in the Southern Hemisphere about
130 feet a year to the north.
jetties in Oregon Inlet were first planned in 1970 as a remedy to
shoaling that would ensure safe passage through the inlet for fishermen
and boaters. But environmental groups argued that the $108 million
project would cause beach erosion and harm fisheries.
the jetty project was killed in 2003, it was promised that the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers would improve the 14-foot navigation channel
and boater safety would be enhanced with more accurate navigational
data. To whatever extent the measures worked, they still proved
gave a presentation about how sand build-up has been stabilized at
other coastal inlets, including in Florida, and South
Carolina. But considering the dynamic conditions at the Nerang,
he said, the combination of jetties and an automated sand bypass system
installed there in the mid-1980s has been very effective.
longshore sediment transport at Oregon Inlet, he said, is about 1
million cubic yards net a year and at the Nerang it is about 900,000
question is, would such a system work here?” he asked. “I would say
it’s very comparable, so it’s certainly worth investigating.”
conceivable, Edge said, that the bypass could work without construction
of twin jetties in the inlet, an option that was shot down by the White
House Council on Environmental Quality in 2003. It is also
possible that elongating the existing terminal groin would be helpful.
If jetties are included, he said, a weir – a small opening -- would
have to be part of the design to allow fish larva and other natural
organisms to pass in and out of the inlet.
declined to estimate the cost of the system, but said that a numeric
model analysis of the inlet that would need to be done would cost about
$200,000 and could be completed in about nine months. A three-year
study of the fish transport and a review of pertinent scientific
studies would cost an additional $220,000 for each year.
in June 2013 to study the state’s options for acquiring Oregon Inlet
and its surrounding land, the 11-member panel was directed to submit a
report by May 1 to the General Assembly detailing its findings and
task force had come as a surprise to the National Park Service, the
owner of the inlet, which is within Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Trimble, superintendent of the Outer Banks Group, said today that the
state has yet to approach him, or anyone in the agency, about potential
land swaps or purchases.
“We have not been contacted,” he said. “I have not heard from anyone.”
If and when the state does make a proposal, Trimble said, it will be reviewed and responded to in the appropriate manner.
the task force’s draft report released Thursday, it said that the State
Property Office had contracted for an appraisal of the inlet property
to “guide the state in negotiations with the landowner for acquisition
or exchange into state ownership.” Specifically, the report said, the
state is interested in 530 acres owned by the National Park Service,
and 180 acres owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
was difficult property to appraise,” the draft report said, “because
there were no comparable land sales on this kind of property.”
The “as-is” market value for the 710 acres was estimated, as of March, at $29,963,000, or $442,200 per acre.
Force chairman Bill Daughtridge, Secretary of the state Department of
Administration, said after the meeting that the state “will be having
discussions” with the Park Service. The draft report also said that
early discussions have been held with Fish and Wildlife officials about
potential land exchanges.
outside firm has been approved by the governor’s office to do an
additional title search, Mark Teague, with the State Property Office,
told the task force. Attorney Norm Shearin has been hired to
assist with related legal issues.
Judge, Chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners, said that an
update of the 2006 report “A Study of the Benefits of Oregon Inlet to
the Economy of Dare County and the Surrounding Region” is expected to
be completed within days.
real problem, I think, is not science,” said state Sen. Bill Cook,
R-Chocowinity, a task force member. “It’s political will. And that’s
where I think we’re going to have the biggest fight.”