300K plus tires pose challenge for Wrightsville Beach renourishment project

WRIGHTVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) – Nearly 300,000 tires were discovered during the planning of the latest re-nourishment project off Wrightsville Beach.

The US Army Corps of Engineers Wilmington Division surveyed an area to collect sand for the upcoming project, according to their Chief Public Information Officer Dave Connolly.

“When we did our surveys of the area, that’s when we discovered the tires,” he said.

Those tires now pose a challenge, when it comes to collecting the sand.

“So what we have to do is plan and mitigate those tires and that means finding deep compatible beach sand, within that zone that is free of tires, or has minimal tires,” he said. “So, that’s what we’re looking for.”

The tires were used in the 70’s as an artificial reef and removing them would be too costly according to both Connolly and Communications Director Patricia Smith with the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries.

“In the 60’s and 70’s, there weren’t regulations, this was a practice that obviously we cease doing,” she said.

Marine Fisheries, however, continue to use artificial materials to build on the reefs.

“Occasionally we’ll sink a ship,” she said. “They actually build, now, what’s called reef balls, they are specifically designed for this purpose.”

The sand previously harvested from Masonboro Inlet is no longer an option; an interpretation of the Coastal Barrier Resources Act prevents that.

They will now have to work around the tires to find enough sand to complete the project.

“You don’t want to put foreign material on the beach, you want to nourish the beach with nice healthy sand,” said Connolly.

“The project is 100 percent federally funded,” he said. “We have encountered a lot of challenges along the way.”

Despite that fact, Connolly said that’s what the corps likes to do, solve problems.

Connolly says, the plan is to get the project started by March of 2023.

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