Environmentalists worry about washed-out sandbags from IOP

Sandbags on Wild Dunes to help fight erosion.

ISLE OF PALMS, S.C. (WCIV) -- Environmental groups are worried about sandbags that have washed away after protecting the beach on the Isle of Palms.

Sandbags are often used as a solution to beach erosion, but what is helping some is not necessarily helping others. The sandbags are supposed to protect the beach but some of them are washing away.

"What concerns me is if we have five or six wash up on Dewees which is only a couple miles long, you can imagine how many might still be floating out in the ocean that haven't washed up yet," said Gary McGraw, a Dewees Island resident.

He is concerned about the effects these washed up sandbags could have on boaters and sea turtles.

"With these bigger bags, it's not such a problem of being eaten but they wash up on the beach and they get buried and that would keep the turtle from crawling up," said McGraw.

Of course he understands the need for the sandbags and really just wants to keep them out of the water.

"I think we need to work together and find some solution that would stop them from getting into the ocean, and I think the city is being responsible about it," said McGraw.

Isle of Palms Mayor Dick Cronin is happy with the progress so far.

"The management of the sandbags has actually been very good relative to what we experienced in 2007 where we had small sandbags and they became litter all up and down the coast," said Cronin.

These large bags are just buying property owners time until the city can pump in more sand this fall.

"We have a permit in hand, the city does, to go out and harvest sand where there is a surplus and move it where there is a deficiency. Any time a shoal is coming ashore it creates erosion on either side where it is going to be attaching so those two erosional spots are now sandbagged," said Cronin.

The sandbags will remain in place through the end of August. IOP is hoping to start the project in October and November after turtle season.

"We were made aware of the situation earlier this week, " said Jim Beasley, media relations with the Department of Health and Environmental Control. "No fines have been assessed. It is my understanding that the property is currently compliant with emergency orders, and the orders have been extended to August 31."

Beasley also said that DHEC has been making routine visits to the site to ensure compliance with the issued Emergency Orders.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off