Page 28 - March2017

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fill as “beneficial use,” which Hirsch maintains is
the highest order of recycling.
“This sand would have gone offshore and been
lost to the system, but instead it is being returned
to the beaches,” she explains. Hirsch also affirms
that taking the sand from this area will have no
secondary impacts on the environment.
Furthermore, the sand is not only nourishing
Galveston’s beaches, it is nourishing the entire
system of sand that moves around the Island and
in the nearby areas of the Gulf. Studies have even
shown that some of the sand is moving down
towards west beach and helping to replenish that
area naturally.
For many who are concerned about the grade
of fill being used, DeShaun assures that the sand
from Big Reef is “beach quality” sand, and the
Park Board was diligent about ensuring that
the fill used for these projects would uphold
standards set by the state. “The sand that we are
mining is clean, non-toxic sand,” says DeShaun.
The sand is removed from Big Reef by one of the
largest dredges in the United States. It features
an eight-foot intake that sucks the fill up from the
floor of the ship channel and into the dredge. It
is then mixed with water and pumped from East
Beach through large shore pipes that run along
the entire length of the beach to the filling site.
There, levees are built of sand along the far edge of the extended area in order
to trap the watery fill on the beach. The step-off created by the levee will
eventually shift and equalize at the behest of the changing tides.
DeShaun goes on to explain that the dark color of the fill seen discharging
from the pipes is that color only because it has been underwater and exposed
to organic material. “But within a week out of the pipe, it begins to bleach,”
she says. For comparison purposes, the fill used for Phase II west of 61
was 28% mud, but after settling the sand is now a brilliant shade of off-white.
The fill being used for Phase III is only 6% mud.
Phase III is slated for completion on March 14
, although residents and visitors
can expect a few weeks for the crews to de-mobilize and remove the shore
pipes from the beach. After that, the Park Board seeks to not only diligently
maintain this particular replenishment, but also to devise strategies for future
sand management that will utilize the latest in new technologies.
Equipment staging area on beach next to murdochs
Within a week after being pumped out of the pipe the new
beach sand will begin to bleach to much whiter shades
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MARCH 2017