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Scientist Use Jet Skis to Study Beach Nourishment Project

Millions of federal and state dollars continues to spent on beach renourishment projects along the Jersey shore to protect property and infrastructure in the event of a storm but how effective are they?

Dr. Jon Miller
Dr. Jon Miller (Stevens Institute of Technology)

Hoboken-based Stevens Institute of Technology has partnered with the State Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to conduct an “extreme” surveying project to monitor the evolution of the nearly $13 million dollar Monmouth Beach Renourishment Project. Stevens Ocean Engineer Dr. Jon Miller says they’re deploying a pretty advanced system off the back of a jet ski every two weeks to find out.

“That allows us to essentially map the bottom and how it changes over time and with the beach nourishment project we’re using that to track the new sand that they’ve placed and figure out where it goes and how fast it gets there.”

Miller says during the cold weather they launch the jet ski off the back of one of their larger research vessels and slide it off the back of the boat into the water. Then he says they kind of mount the jet ski and do their surveys. He says the reason they use a jet ski is because they need to get close to shore.

However, with other beach renourishment projects it seems no sooner than they pump thousands of cubic yards of sand that the fill erodes back into the ocean, sometimes forming steep dropoffs. Miller says, “it doesn’t mean that the beach nourishment is ineffective. It just means that it’s taking on a more natural form and that’s kind of all built into the design but that tends to occur really rapidly immediately after the fill is placed. So that’s why we’re going to go out every two weeks for the first two months and track those changes.

When asking Miller about the goal of the project? He says, “We’ve been doing beach nourishments for a long time in this country and we monitor them to a varying degree. Some projects have been monitored very well, other’s not so much. So what we’re constantly trying to do is to tweak the projects slightly and come up with basically a smarter way to do things.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $12.9 million dollar contract to Weeks Marine of Cranford in October of last year to place approximately 800,000 cubic yards of sand on Monmouth Beach. The sand is being dredged from the Sea Bright area off of Sandy Hook. The project is now in its finishing stages.

 

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