MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Some Horry County homeowners are speaking out to oppose some beach erosion prevention work, efforts that usually get broad support.
Those homeowners live along the marsh that surrounds the Singleton Swash, just south of Lake Arrowhead Road between U.S. Highway 17 and the ocean.
Since the Army Corps of Engineers renourished the beach in that area in 1999 and 2000, the swash curved south along the beach, threatening a public beach access and the Dunes Golf and Beach Club. Pushing the swash back to a straighter path several times has added up to about $500,000 for the county since then.
"Depending on the year and how many storms we get $30,000 to maybe up to $100,000 a year," explained Horry County Assistant Administrator and Engineer. "It's part of a maintenance agreement with the Corps of Engineers so that we stay eligible for funding for future renourishment projects."
In the last two years nearby homeowners have raised questions about whether that erosion work is worth it because it has to be done again and again, and the marsh along the swash has been dryer that normal. Goznell said the swash never curved south causing erosion problems before the 1999-2000 renourishment, so he did not expect it to continue being a problem after the first realignment. However, the problem persists, so he says the county is looking at a more permanent fix.
The Army Corp of Engineers has suggested the installation of a groin in the area to reduce the shore erosion. A groin is basically rocks piled up in a row to run from the shore into the ocean. The groin would reduce the shore erosion. Gosnell said the county will likely move forward with that suggestion.
Homeowners along the swash also have concerns about the work to realign the swash because they believe it is drying up the marsh.
"Every day you have high tide, a lot of wildlife out here," said Woody Safrit. "Now that the filling's been done at the mouth of the ocean there, it's basically turned into a mud flat."
SAFRIT helped develop The Pointe condominiums, and she said the work is affecting all the properties along the swash, including his condos, which once carried a million-dollar price tag.
"It'll be difficult to ever obtain that. Obviously the economy's not as good now, but still, people want to see nature and the wildlife and overlook the ocean," Safrit said.
Jose Garcia who lives in the area signed up to speak about the swash concerns at the Horry County Council meeting Tuesday, but he was not there at the end of the meeting when his name was called.
Gosnell said neither the county nor several outside experts have been able to find a link between the erosion work and the marsh. Nonetheless, he said the county will also work to figure out what is happening in the marsh.
"We certainly don't take lightly their concerns," Gosnell said. "They live there every day. They're seeing something that's obviously different. We're going to explore what that is. If there's a way to correct it, we're going to correct it."
Gosnell said the county has been looking at trends in tides at the Singleton Swash and in the Garden City area where the county has noticed similar marsh drying. He said one possible cause for the dry marsh land could be a trend of low tides. That is just one thing the county will continue to explore while trying to solve the problem.
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