FOLEY, Ala. (WALA) - Various factors have contributed to the need for projects in Baldwin County to restore area beaches' sands, which have been lost to time, weather and the ocean.
Storms like Ida, Gustav, Ivan and Ike have done a number on Baldwin County beaches.
Over time, the ocean has crept closer to homes and buildings, destroyed dunes and made the whole beach vulnerable to further erosion.
Grant Brown with the City of Gulf Shores said, "It's a $16 million project that goes all the way from the western edge of the city of Gulf Shores, Laguna Key, all the way to the Florida/Alabama state line at the Florabama."
Oil spill concerns
At a cost of $100,000 per day, 1.3 million cubic yards of sand will be dredged from the bottom of the ocean by a large boat just offshore. That sand is then pumped through pipes, stretching more than mile, to the beach.
FEMA is covering 75 percent of the cost of the project, while the state and municipalities split the other 25 percent.
It's a straight-forward project, but there are concerns, especially in the sand itself, just two years removed from the Deepwater Horizon explosion and resulting oil spill.
"As the sand is coming ashore, they're monitoring to see what is coming out of the pipe to make sure there is no oil. So far we haven't seen anything," Brown said. "If there is something, the sand will go through a cleaning process, be cleaned and then put on the beach."
If tar mats are found on the beach itself while they're moving around sand, the area will be marked so crews can find it for cleaning later.
New sand makes new beaches
When all is said and done, the beaches of Baldwin County should be cleaner, wider and better protected than ever.
"The dunes will be recreated with this process. The next step will be to come back in the spring time and till the sand up and plant sea oats. So this is a protective measure, as well as gaining beach," Brown told us.
With another-recording breaking year of beach tourism behind Baldwin County, it's an investment in the future. The re-nourishment should wrap up in February just before spring break.
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